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Why do pagodas in China have a "flying cornice"?

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Why do pagodas in China have a "flying cornice"?

Characteristically curved roofs are found not only on Buddhist temples and other ritual buildings of the Celestial Empire. You can observe such a "fei yang" - a flying cornice - in Taoist temple buildings, imperial palaces, mosques, gazebos and even residential buildings are decorated with this element not only in China, but also in Japan, Korea, Buryatia.

There is a widespread opinion: such a roofing will drive away and will not let bad energy and evil spirits under the arches. To enhance the effect, bells are hung on the bent parts, and unicorns-tsilin and dragons are drawn.

Scientists deny the rationale and the fact that the "flying roof" is dictated by the philosophy of feng shui. The curved roof of Chinese pagodas carries a completely functional load: during frequent rainstorms, water flowing down the bends is diverted into specially designed gutters, which protects the foundation of the structure from erosion, which was significant in ancient times, when the buildings were mostly wooden. To prevent abundant streams of rainwater from flooding the interior of houses and temples, not destroying the foundations of buildings, wide multi-layered elements of straight roofs began to appear, hanging over the facades with hats.

But the exorbitantly wide "brim" of the roof-hats, which are great help during the rains, gave too much shade on sunny days. The era of Han (206 BC - 220 AD) presented the inhabitants of the Celestial Empire with an engineering solution - the corners of the roofs were bent. The tradition of decorating dwellings and temples with "flying cornices" remained after the 6th century, when stone began to be used almost everywhere in construction.

Roof bends are traditionally used even in those buildings in which the lower floors are wider in width than the upper ones, and it becomes clear that it will not be possible to protect the base of the house from water. A striking example of this decorative application of curved elements of multilayer roofs can be seen at the Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an.

Considering the housing stock separately, where functionality is an important part, SMAPSE experts will notice several types of curved roofs. In regions with maximum precipitation, 2 slightly curved slopes are used, while northerners usually decorate their homes with ridge curved at the edges, and the roofs themselves remain flat. In snowy and windy provinces such as Shanxi and Shaanxi, houses are covered with pitched roofs on the leeward side, with no obvious bend.

After reviewing both points of view, specialists conclude that expediency in construction is often no less important than feng shui!

Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Kuban State University, Russia (World Economics); Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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