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Chinese - English - Chinese Glossary of Architectural Terms

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Chinese version by Laura Intrito

English version by Costanza Chirico




Chinese blue

中国蓝zhongguo lan

The first two characters 中国 “China” and the third one “blue”


A pigment in the iron blue family.

Chinese Fret

中国回形格子 zhongguo huixing gezi

the character

“tree”, “wood”


“to come after”

A lattice pattern of Chinese motif described under Chinese Chippendale[1].


Cchinese Lacquer

 中国 zhongguo qi

Etimology “qi”

Left Root “water”

Superior Root “tree”, “wood”

Inferior Root “water”

The first two characters中国 “China”. The third one “varnish object”

A hard-wearing varnish drawn from natural sources, as from the Japanese varnish tree.


中国古玩 zhongguo guwan

中国 “China”, gu 古 “ancient”, 玩 “object”

A Western European and English architectural and decorative fashion employing Chinese ornamentation and structural elements, particularly in 18th century Rococo design.

Pai-lou or



pai “decorated archway”, lou “building”

A momumental Chinese arch or gateway with one, three, or five openings; erected at the entrance to a palace, tomb, or processional way. Usually built of stone in imitation of wood construction.








The top of Pagoda


Base square

  •    ta commonly called “eight corners tower”八角

 Etimology: Left Root tu “land”

 Superior Root gong “two hands”

  a roof



  • Ta dian 塔颠

 Ta “pagoda”, dian “top”



  • ta di kuang 塔底框

 塔Ta “pagoda”, 底 “basament, base, 框 kuang “circle”


A multistoried shrine-like tower, originally a Buddhist monument crowned by a stupa. Stories may be open pavilions of wood with balconies and pent roofs or built-in mansonry, of diminishing size with corbeled cornices.


The same as pagoda

A Buddhist memorial mound, erected to enshrine a relic or to commemorate a sacred site; consists of an artificial mound, raised on a platformand surrounded by an outer ambulatori with a stone railing and four gateways, crowned by a multiple sunshade.

It is topped by a chattravali.

Ba-gua or Pa-Kua

八卦 bagua

A diagram from the I Ching. The literal translation is "eight house." It has eight external sections and the center one called the tai chi. Each of the eight sections have a trigram name; and references a specific compass direction, number, element, season, color, various body organs, family member, symbol and life aspects. The bagua can be drawn in many different forms and is a tool for most schools of Feng Shui.

Feng Shui

风水 fengshui. Wind and Water

Origin: 1795–1800

A traditional Chinese technique for planning the layout of a building and for orienting rooms within it, so a sto be in harmony with nature and with its surroundings.

Azure Dragon

蓝龙 lan long

Lan “blue”, long “dragon”

The Azure Dragon is one of the Four Symbols of the Chinese constellations. It is sometimes called the Azure Dragon of the East. It represents the east and the spring season. It is also referred to in media, feng shui, other cultures, etc., as the Green Dragon and the Avalon Dragon.

China Grass Cloth

草席 grass mat

A loosely woven fabric of vegetable fibers; used for wall covering.

China Sanitary Ware


中国 “China”, 卫生 “sanitary”, 器具 “object”


China White or Silver White 

中国白 zhongguo bai

中国 “China”;白 bai “white”

A paint using zinc oxide as the principal pigment.

China Wood Oil or Tung Oil

桐油 tong you

China wood oil / paulownia  oil

桐tong “paulownia”, 油 you “oil”

A drying oil which oxidizes very rapidly, at almost twice the rate of linseed oil; forms a hard dry film when used in paints and varnishes.

Classical Chinese Garden

中国园林zhongguo yuanlin

中国Zhongguo “China”,

园林yuanlin “garden”

Miniature of the Chinese landscape. Its design is a process of abstraction and stylization of the existing landscape and the final aim of creating a natural form in Chinese garden is to celebrate the human spirit.


[1] Descriptive of lattice patterns suggestive of Chinese motifs designed by Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779), England’s most widely known furniture maker of his time. Such designs were a combination of horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines, forming geometric patterns, usually within a rectangular frame; especially used in railing systems.

Dictionary of Architecture and Construction by Cyril M. Harris, pag.206

Published - June 2010

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