雍和宫 Lama Temple, 国子监 Guózǐjiàn National Academy

雍和宫 Lama Temple

Built in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty, the Lama Temple originally functioned as an imperial residence before it was converted into a lamasery in 1744. I saw only one monk but supposedly it still functions as a temple and monastery for the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. From what I’ve read, the complex integrates Han, Manchu, Mongolian and Tibetan architectural styles, but beyond calligraphic works from those cultures, the overall imperial symmetry dominated the experience. The skybridges of the main hall were particularly intriguing in that I had never seen anything like them in Chinese architecture before.

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 国子监 Guózǐjiàn, National Academy

After visiting the main Temple of Confucius, Beijing’s Confucian temple proved an interesting counterpoint. Stylistically there were many similarities (same fantastic grid of old trees, same tortoise based stela, axial approach, yellow tiles, etc) but their histories are interestingly divergent. Confucian temples actually functioned as academies in pre-modern China, so both the Qufu and Beijing compounds operated as schools that focused on learning the classical texts, a requisite for young aspiring bureaucrats in order to pass the imperial exam. However, the emphasis of the Qufu (home of Confucius) Temple was understandably focused on Confucius and his teachings, whereas the Beijing Temple was the site of the Guozijian, traditional China’s highest institute of learning. This visit played a key role in forming my master’s thesis in its nascent stages, and filling out the whole host of examples required in its later phases. Following is a photograph of a hall similar stylistically to Yilun Hall 彝论堂 a major focus in the Education Discourse section of my thesis (which is then depicted in the following elevation drawings):

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Yilun Hall South and North Elevations《其他文物建筑》。北京:北京美术摄影出版社,2011,58-9页

 

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Guozijian Plan 《其他文物建筑》。北京:北京美术摄影出版社,2011,46页

“Taking over and replacing the Imperial Academy which had been established in the Han Dynasty, the Guozijian 国子监 operated as the top level of the government school system and would relocate according to the dynasty’s capital (such as the ancient capitals of Chang’an, Luoyang, and Kaifeng). The last Guozijian is located in Beijing’s Dongcheng District, and operated as the imperial academy from the Yuan to Qing Dynasties. The academy at this location was originally constructed in 1297 under Kublai Khan’s imperial edict, and contained 167 schoolhouses, an administrative area, a resting area, a learning area and storage (see site plan to the left). Yilun Hall 彝论堂 stands on the main axis of the compound, to the north of the Biyong 辟雍central pavilion, and it functioned as a library during the Ming-Qing Dynasties. Prior to the construction of the Biyong pavilion, Yilun Hall also served as the main lecture hall for speeches given by the emperor and other prominent scholars.

“The structure is one story high, seven column bays wide, and features a large, open interior space that is spatially linked to neighboring buildings (see plan below). To the east is the Code Book Department and to the west the Classics Department, which served as the institution of book engraving. The fact that a larger, uninterrupted space can accommodate a gathering of people or technical functions, like book making, is not a particularly profound realization, but it is interesting to see the overlap of archive, education, government and book production coinciding in place and time. This relationship of open space and overlapping discourses can be seen in the contrast between Yilun Hall and its neighbor Jingyi Pavilion 敬一亭 (see plan & section below). Jingyi Pavilion follows Yilun Hall in the south to north axial sequence of the academy compound and was built in 1528 for the sole function of storing interior edicts. The intentions of these buildings are clearly very different: Jingyi Pavilion to serve purely as an archive, a mechanism to protect manuscripts, and Yilun Hall as a hybrid archive, equally interested in the active engagement of archived materials as the protection of said materials.”

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Yilun Hall Plan 《其他文物建筑》。北京:北京美术摄影出版社,2011,58-9页

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Jingyi Pavilion Plan, Section, Elevation 《其他文物建筑》。北京:北京美术摄影出版社,2011,61页

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Students gathered to listen to a speech at the Biyong 辟雍central pavilion, photographed below

 

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