Asserting Power Through Construction And Destruction History Essay

The significance of power, both philosophical and contextual, and its manifestation in world are some of the ways to understand the inquiry whether it is possible to assert power through building and devastation. I will reason that it is so possible to asseverate power via art and architecture and besides through mass devastation of civilizations and edifices.

Concentrating upon a specific person, society, administration, state or province, I would critically analyze the usage of art and architecture of China as a medium for advancing messages of power in this essay.

First I will set up what truly is power? From a philosophical point of what does power mean, citing illustrations from plants of great philosophers who through research have tried to analyze power in different ways.

Then I would analyze the inquiry of how power can be manifested and reasoning that building, and that is, via architecture, how power is manifested in physical world.

I would be citing illustrations of great plants of architecture which are symbolic of power.

China and its architecture would be my instance survey to reason and demo through illustrations how truly power was manifested through ages and how it affected to either empower civilisations and how devastation of those very humanistic disciplines gave the messages of animus, retaliation, revolution which are constituents of power.

Besides the different typologies in architecture every bit good as art developed would be discussed as a consequence of will to asseverate power.

The wars between dynasties would be discussed as an effort to attest the statement that the manner power can be asserted through creative activity so can it be through devastation.

In decision I would sum it up back uping the statement that so power can be asserted through building and devastation.

1.1 Understanding Power

Power can be described as an ability to act upon others to believe, act, or to value as those in power desire them to or to beef up, formalize, or corroborate present beliefs, behaviours, or values. ( Gallic, Raven, 1959, pp. 150-167. )

Over the old ages philosophers have pondered over the nature of power and how it exists in

world. As Philosopher Nietzsche claimed, “ universe is the will to power-and nil besides! ” to some extent examines the being of power in life. Bing an utmost position, it ponders over can truly power be manifested and if so, what are the ways and means it has been go oning in today ‘s world every bit good as throughout history.

The “ will to power ” is therefore a “ cosmic ” interior force playing in and through both animate and inanimate objects. Besides inherent aptitudes, even higher degree behavior in human existences is controlled by the will to power. In fact, Nietzsche considered conciousness itself to be a signifier of inherent aptitude. Assorted signifiers of exhibiting power are physical force, prevarication, and domination, on one manus, and such seemingly non-harmful Acts of the Apostless as gift-giving, love, and congratulations on the other-though its manifestations can be altered significantly, such as through art and aesthetic experience. ( Nietzsche,1968. pp. 403. )

China: A brief Overview

China as a instance survey to understand the above inquiry is relevant non merely because it is one of the most ancient civilisations but besides because it has evolved in art and architecture which has been used to picture messages of power.The history of China is marked by 3 Sovereigns and 5 Emperors and Chinese civilisation is one of the oldest dating back to 1.36 million old ages ago, when first hints of adult male were found in China. The outgrowth of Chinese art and architecture was parallel to the conflicts of power between dynasties which ruled Chinas and were mostly responsible for the development but more of symbolism of their power through art and architecture. ( Tregar,1997 )

2.1.Ancient Chinese art and word picture of power

2.1.1 Bronze

Chinese bronze metal projecting preceded that of any other civilisation and is noted for its artistic edification and proficient virtuosity. In the antediluvian Chinese universe, bronze conferred power and signified societal position and influence. The early development of bronze-casting methods reached their zenith during the Shang ( c.1700-1050 BC ) and Zhou ( c.1050-221 BC ) Dynasties, when luxuriant ritual vass and arms were produced. Swords and armory ensured military success in this universe and ritual vass played an of import function in keeping a good relationship with Gods, shades and

ascendants. Ritual nutrient and imbibe offerings were made in vass decorated with animate beings, birds, firedrakes and unusual fabulous beasts.Expressive geometric designs characteristic of this period signifier intricate symbolic forms that tell much about the cosmogonic positions and lives and of the early Chinese people.

2.1.2 Jade

Jade as a rock had high regard in Chinese civilization and utilizing it in assorted ways like ornamentation, weaponary was considered as an indicant of societal art. The physical belongingss and religious powers of jade were thought to convey strength and protection in life and decease. Jade decorations and pendents were seen as a clear indicant of societal standing and jade arms indicated the power of physical force. In decease, jade burial suits were thought to guard against malign liquors and evil forces.

( Rawson, 2009, p. 22-p25 )

2.1.3 Lacquer

From the Eastern Zhou ( 770-221 BC ) and Han ( 206 BC- AD 220 ) Dynasties, cosmetic lacquer became progressively popular and was praised for its power to protect and continue. The humid clime of southern and western parts of China was ideally suited to lacquer crafting, forestalling the stuff from drying out or checking.

( Shuter, 2006, p. 22-p24 )

2.1.4 Word picture of firedrakes in art

The first legendary Emperor, Huang Di, was said to hold been immortalized into a firedrake that resembled his emblem, and ascended to Heaven. The other legendary Emperor, Huang Di ‘s brother, Yan Di was born by her female parent ‘s thought transference with a mythic firedrake. Since the Chinese consider Huang Di and Yan Di as their ascendants, they sometimes refer to themselves as “ the posterities of the firedrake ” . This fable besides contributed towards the usage of the Chinese firedrake as a symbol of imperial power.

The firedrake, particularly xanthous or aureate firedrakes with five claws on each pes, was a symbol for the emperor in many Chinese dynasties. The imperial throne was called the Dragon Throne. During the late Qing Dynasty, the firedrake was even adopted as the national flag. The firedrake is featured in the carvings on the stairss of imperial castles and graves, such as the Forbidden City in Beijing.

In some Chinese fables, an Emperor might be born with a nevus in the form of a firedrake. For illustration, one fable tells the narrative of a peasant Born with a firedrake nevus who finally overthrows the bing dynasty and founds a new one ; another fable might state of the prince in concealing from his enemies who is identified by his firedrake nevus. ( Zhang, 2008, pp. 13 )

3. Power manifested through Architecture

Architecture, maestro of all humanistic disciplines frequently being a media to picture power, however the universe sees outgrowth of varied and monumental architecture though centuries, be it the great cathedrals, pyramids, expansive castles or immense urban civilisations. The typologies in

Chinese architecture that emerged besides were mostly influenced by what they were picturing for illustration the division was house of common mans, imperial edifices and spiritual constructions, each set uping its ain topographic point in the society via architecture they exhibited.

3.1 House Of Commoners

The house of common man once more had several differences depending upon the rank of the individual in the society. As for the common mans, be they administrative officials, merchandisers or husbandmans, their houses tended to follow a set form:

the centre of the edifice would be a shrine for the divinities and the ascendants, which would besides be used during celebrations.

On its two sides were sleeping rooms for the seniors ; the two wings of the edifice ( known as “ guardian firedrakes ” by the Chinese ) were for the junior members of the household, every bit good as the life room, the dining room, and the kitchen, although sometimes the life room could be really near to the centre.

Large drawn-out households were accomodated in two excess braces of “ wings ” which had to be built. This resulted in a U-shaped edifice, with a courtyard suitable for farm work ; merchandisers and administrative officials, nevertheless, preferred to shut off the forepart with an enforcing front gate.

All edifices were lawfully regulated, and the jurisprudence held that the figure of floors, the length of the edifice and the colorss used depended on the proprietor ‘s category. Some common mans populating in countries plagued by brigands built communal fortresses called Tulou for protection.

3.2 Imperial

There were certain architectural characteristics that were reserved entirely for edifices built for the Emperor of China. One illustration is the usage of xanthous roof tiles ; yellow holding been the Imperial coloring material, xanthous roof tiles still adorn most of the edifices within the Forbidden City. The Temple of Heaven, nevertheless, uses bluish roof tiles to typify the sky. The roofs are

about constantly supported by ( “ dougong ” ) brackets, a characteristic shared merely with the largest of spiritual edifices. The wooden columns of the edifices, every bit good as the surface of the walls, tend to be red in coloring material. Black is besides a celebrated coloring material frequently used in pagodas. They believe the Gods are inspired by the black coloring material to fall on to the Earth.

The Chinese five-clawed firedrake, adopted by the first Ming emperor for his personal usage, was used as ornament on the beams, pillars, and on the doors on Imperial architecture. Curiously, the firedrake was ne’er used on roofs of imperial edifices.

Merely the edifices used by the imperial household were allowed to hold nine jian ( infinite between two columns ) ; merely the Gatess used by the Emperor could hold five arches, with the Centre one, of class, being reserved for the Emperor himself. ( Sickman, Soper,1956 )

3.3 Religious

By and large talking, Buddhist architecture follow the imperial manner. A big Buddhist monastery usually has a forepart hall, lodging the statue of a Bodhisattva, followed by a great hall, lodging the statues of the Buddhas. Adjustments for the monastics and the nuns are located at the two sides. Some of the greatest illustrations of this semen from the eighteenth century temples of the Puning Temple and the Putuo Zongcheng Temple. Buddhist monasteries sometimes besides have pagodas, which may house the relics of the Gautam Buddha, older pagodas tend to be quadrilateral, while subsequently pagodas normally have eight-sides. ( Tregar,1997, p. 26 )

4. Case Studies

4.1 The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial castle from the Ming Dynasty to the terminal of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the center of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. For about five hundred old ages, it served as the place of the Emperor and his family, every bit good as the ceremonial and political centre of Chinese authorities.

Built in 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 lasting edifices with 8,707 bays of suites and screens 720,000A M2 ( 7,800,000A sqA foot ) . The castle complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest aggregation of preserved ancient wooden constructions in the universe. ( Bronson,2004 )

4.1.1 Forbidden City: Symbolism

Imperial roof ornament of highest position on the roof ridge of the Hall of Supreme Harmony. The design of the Forbidden City, from its overall layout to the smallest item, was meticulously planned to reflect philosophical and spiritual rules, and above all to symbolize the stateliness of Imperial power. Some noted illustrations of symbolic designs include:

Yellow is the colour of the Emperor. Therefore about all roofs in the Forbidden City bear xanthous glassy tiles. There are merely two exclusions. The library at the Pavilion of Literary Profundity had black tiles because black was associated with H2O, and therefore fire-prevention. Similarly, the Crown Prince ‘s abodes have green tiles because viridity was associated with wood, and therefore growing.

The chief halls of the Outer and Inner tribunals are all arranged in groups of three – the form of the Qian triagram, stand foring Heaven. The abodes of the Inner Court on the other manus are arranged in groups of six – the form of the Kun triagram, stand foring the Earth.

The sloping ridges of edifice roofs are decorated with a line of figurines lead by a adult male siting a Phoenix and followed by an imperial firedrake The figure of figurines represents the position of the edifice – a minor edifice might hold 3 or 5. The Hall of Supreme Harmony has 10, the lone edifice in the state to be permitted this in Imperial times. As a consequence, its tenth figurine, called a “ Hangshi ” , or “ graded ten percent ” , is besides alone in the Forbidden City.

The layout of edifices follows ancient imposts laid down in the Classic of Rites. Thus, hereditary temples are in forepart of the castle. Storage countries are placed in the front portion of the castle composite, and abodes in the dorsum. ( Bronson,2004 )

4.2 Great Wall Of China

Great Wall has been one of the admirations of the ancient universe. It is like a kiping firedrake crossing across about the whole China. It is an object, which many fables revolve about. Some exclaimed it as “ the lone semisynthetic object seeable to the bare oculus in infinite! ” Some calculated the stuffs used in the wall are sufficient to construct a little wall of eight pess tall and three pess thick around the equator

4.2.2 The Significance of the Great Wall

The Great Wall played an of import portion in the history. The perceptual experience of Great wall was was different in different times. The Chinese swayers who built it saw it with great confidence

of boundary line defence, as it provided safety of Chinese civilization and trade centre such as those on silk roads. The mobile people saw the wall as a menace to their endurance. In fact, during the Han dynasty, the Great Wall had forced the Huns to spread out west into Europe, which started a concatenation of event that finally brought down the Roman Empire. Equally early as seventeenth century, the westerners marveled at the wall, and see it as a symbol of the Chinese isolationism. Despite the westerner ‘s congratulations, Chinese positions of the wall was a sorrow one during the post-Ming period, the Chinese people felt the wall was a reminder of their licking to the Manchurians. Today, the Great Wall is being publicized as the unofficial national symbol for China, and a great tourer attractive force. The Chinese people see it with pride of their ancient lineage. This can be all summarized by a Chinese expression: ” There is no good adult male who has non been up the Great Wall. ” ( Shuter,1997, p. 28 )

Power through devastation

There were a great many conflicts between the dynasties and each one to demo its art targeted the architecture for destruction.The out metropolis, a symbol of power was the easy mark to set up regulation.

From 1420 to 1644, the Forbidden City was the place of the Ming Dynasty. In April 1644, it was captured by Rebel forces led by Li Zicheng, who proclaimed himself emperor of the Shun Dynasty.He shortly fled before the combined ground forcess of former Ming general Wu Sangui and Manchu forces, puting fire to parts of the Forbidden City in the procedure. By October, the Manchus achieved domination in northern China, and a ceremonial was held at the Forbidden City to proclaim the immature Shunzhi Emperor as swayer of all China under the Qing Dynasty.The Qing swayers changed the names of the chief edifices, to stress “ Harmony ” instead than “ Supremacy ” , made the name plates bilingual ( Chinese and Manchu ) , and introduced Shamanist elements to the castle.

5.1 Destruction of Chinese civilizations and traditional values

Mao Zedong called for the Four Olds to be swept off at the really early phases of the Cultural Revolution in 1966. As a consequence, illustrations of Chinese architecture were ransacked, Chinese literature and classics were burned, Chinese pictures were lacerate apart, antiquities were shattered. Many households ‘ long kept were burned to ashes. During that clip, many ancient Chinese cultural artifacts were destroyed everlastingly. Peoples in ownership of these goods were punished. Intellectuals were targeted as personifications of the Four Olds, and sometimes they were mocked, harassed, imprisoned, or killed.

6. Analysis

Analyzing the antediluvian Chinese art and architecture through illustrations cited above it can be said that Chinese did believe in demoing their power through creativeness in art and architecture but besides through wars and weaponary.


In decision it can be said that so, art and architecture, have an ageless quality to it as a consequence of which it has been symbolic of civilization ‘s creativeness and advancement, and hence is a tool to enforce power. Besides as it can be seen from the legion illustrations that Chinese art and architecture has been emerging like a Phoenix through devastation, retaining the original rules while being recreated but holding an underlying will to connote power.

Therefore it can be concluded that art and architecture can be used as a media of asseverating power. This essay has taken Chinas and its art and architecture as an illustration to set up this position. But similar survey can be made of other civilizations as good and in a manner a common yarn would be the will to exercise power which has resulted in all of universes great art and architecture.

The emerging art and architecture is still the result of enforcing power and with a will to go forth a bequest to coming coevalss, picturing the power they one time established.

8. Restrictions

The survey though set uping the statement that power can be manifested through

building and devastation can still mention more illustrations and take into consideration the modern period of Chinese art and architecture alongwith historical background.

9. Further Scope

Indeed it is interesting to chew over over how and why universe ‘s great art and architecture has power as a indispensable necessity. What if power was ne’er an issue? How so would the art and architecture be? This could be the farther range of the proposed research.