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ARCHITECTURE & ICONOGRAPHY

  

 

 

  roof support beams in Chinese architecture

 

China

The ends of the roof support beams (fig.) in Chinese architecture are usually decorated. The ones seen here, at the Long Corridor (fig.) in the Beijing Summer Palace (fig.), are painted with decorative motifs.

 

The painted ends of the upper beams have a floral motif that is likely to represent a champak flower with four petals, in Mahayana Buddhism believed to be the tree under which Maitreya, the future buddha, will attain Enlightenment. The upper beams have the outline of a bat, which represents good luck. In its mouth, the bat holds a branch with two fruits,  believed to be peaches, which are symbols of longevity. The auspicious bat is also depicted inside the gazebos, and on the roof fittings (fig.).

 

  roof support beams in Chinese architecture