A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z




paifang (牌坊)

Chinese. ‘Memorial archway’ or ‘signboard archway’. Name of a traditional Chinese-style architectural edifice in the form of a decorated archway. It typically consists of any odd number of doorways, most often three, with the one in the centre typically a little larger than the ones by which it is flanked. According to tradition, this central gateway is supposed to be used only by the king or ruler, whereas the subordinates have to enter by the gateways on either side of it. The archway is usually adorned and topped with tiled roofs, in many cases with upward curved corners and a supporting frame of interlocking brackets called dougong (fig.), and ‒if not all‒ at least the middle gateway in general has a gable on which Chinese characters can be displayed, usually the name of the place to which the paifang gives access. Sometimes Imperial Guardian Lions (fig.) are placed at the centre pillars. If the paifang is constructed using wooden pillars, than those are place onto stone bases. Also known as pailou (牌楼), i.e. ‘storied archway’ or ‘multi-storey signboard’. Some sources claim that the is paifang related to the Indian torana (तोरण), i.e. an arched doorway found in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain architecture, as well as to the Japanese torih (fig.), which literally translates as ‘bird's dwelling’ and is used to mark the entrance to a sacred space, a Shinto concept akin to the Akha spirit gate (fig.). The designation ‘bird's abode’ derives from this edifice's straightforward form, i.e. two erect posts, in most cases, topped by a crossbeam or lintel that (depending on the variety) may protrude from the sides, underneath a second wider ‒often roof-like‒ lintel, making the bottom lintel an ideal resting place and shelter for birds. See also dvarapala.