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ARCHITECTURE & ICONOGRAPHY

  

 

 

  men kan

 

Vietnam

Men kan is Chinese for ‘threshold’ or ‘door sill’, which in traditional buildings in East Asia and Southeast Asia, such as palaces, temples and traditional homes is typically high or raised. There are many different reason given for this, depending on region and the person who one asks, including: an architectural necessity; to hold back rising flood waters; too keep out snakes; to keep out the spirits of the deceased, since they can't step over the high thresholds due to their stiff legs; to demand respect, i.e. that when stepping over it one has to look down in order to see where to step and thus automatically bows by lowering the head in respect of the person whose place one enters; that it is the dwelling place of the guardian spirit; and so on...