Historical Roofs: Buddhist Structures in Asia

01 Sep Historical Roofs: Buddhist Structures in Asia

A roof is obviously an important part of any structure. The inherent nature of it means that it will be found in nearly every culture around the world. However, the way each of them would design and plan out their roofs would be radically different. Today, there are some stunning examples of roofs that history has left for us to marvel at. Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at roofs from different regions of the world that are historical marvels. Here are a couple wonderful roofs from Asia…

Grand Palace in Thailand

In 1782 A.D., the Grand Palace of Bangkok was constructed to house the Kings of Siam (soon to be Thailand). The Grand Palace features many, many different groups of buildings, and has been added onto many times over the years. However, the buildings that we refer to when we talk of particularly stunning roofing is the Phra Maha Prasat group. The Maha Prasat group had been apart of the Grand Palace since the very beginning, when King Rama I first had the palace constructed. This makes it consist of some of the oldest buildings there. The center of the Maha Prasat section is the throne hall, Phra Thinang Dust Maha Prasat. This building consists of a layered roof that is an architectural, as well as religious feat. Each layer of the slanted roof represents a level of heaven in Buddhist cosmology, and the spire on top represents the mythological Mount Meru, which is the Buddhist center of the universe. This roof is a particularly great example of a unique take on traditional Thai architecture.

Lingyin Temple in China

The title for largest Buddhist temple in the world belongs to the Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou of the Zhejiang Province in China. It is also easily one of the richest and most extravagant, which means that the architecture is a particularly beautiful example of Chinese Buddhist design. The original monastery was built by monks in 328 A.D., but has been added onto and improved over the years. Some parts of the temple were even rebuilt due to attacks by marauders that left parts of the temple in ashes. Although this temple consists of dozens of gorgeous buildings, the particular roof that we find incredible belongs to the Mahivira Hall of Lingyin, also called Daxiongbaodian (we know, it’s quite a mouthful). This building is the heart of the temple, and one of the oldest structures there. The building is so large, that it is difficult to catch its majesty in a single photograph. The roof is a gorgeous, triple-eaved beauty that stands over 120 feet high. The wood shingles are each individually carved to fit in perfectly with the archetypal slants of asian roofing, and then polished with a finish to protect them from the elements. This roof has to be carefully managed, and each shingle that is replaced must be individually crafted, as no two on the roof are the same.

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