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Unit 5 Building in the Service of Belief: Monasteries, Pilgrimage Shrines, and Heavenly Monuments, 4

Tracing an architecture of persuasion from the centers to the frontiers of belief systems

Unit 5 Building in the Service of Belief: Monasteries, Pilgrimage Shrines, and Heavenly Monuments, 400 CE–1200 CE In this unit we trace an architecture of persuasion as it reaches from the centres to the frontiers of belief systems. Conquest and conversion go hand in hand. Engagement of the faithful is an important element. Shrines, pilgrimage sites, and accommodation for mass participation are hallmarks of a new order of building types. Gothic cathedrals with their soaring vaults and sumptuously decorated naves bathed in the suffused light of stained glass provide a foretaste and evocation of the Heavenly Jerusalem.

Monastic rule and the buildings that codify the beliefs and practices underpinning it, along with attendant shrines and reliquaries to attract pilgrims, are formulated into ritual complexes as these ideas drive architectural form and decoration from northern Europe to southern Japan. However, the architecture of persuasion is also as inventive as the beliefs and philosophies behind it, and new variants arise from the diverse personal causes at work behind those beliefs. We can trace how new forms of shrines and churches emerge as Christianity diverges in Greek and Latin orthodoxies. As Shia and Umayyad Islam is institutionalized, the mosque emerges. Temple forms are adapted to accommodate Hinduism in India, Buddhism in Japan, and the merging of ancient Taoist practices with the beliefs of Buddhism and Confucius in China.

Learning Objectives Understand how belief systems in the period ca. 400 CE to ca. 1200 CE drive the invention of new architectural forms to accommodate a new kind of popular participation in religious ritual and ceremony. Distinguish these new architectural forms (e.g., the pilgrimage shrine and the monastery), and examine how they are variously adapted to place, ideology, and belief in Europe, China, Japan, Indonesia, Burma, the Mediterranean, and South America. Appreciate how decorative (often sculptural) programs begin to serve systematic mass educational ends. Learning Activities Recommended time to complete this unit: 2 weeks. Access the course home page for news and updates.

Access and review the course-support websites. Check in with your Academic Expert. Read the Study Guide case studies and the assigned readings for this unit; check the recommended online links. Read A Global History of Architecture, “800 CE.” Continue to build your Journal. Answer five of the study questions at the end of this unit. Complete and submit Assignment 5: Long Research Essay. Case Study 1 TOP Chang’an (“Perpetual Peace”) City, China Wade–Giles (an alternative spelling and pronunciation system): Ch'ang-an Imperial capital to numerous dynasties, Chang’an was revived in the 4th century CE as a center of Buddhist learning. By 750 CE, under the Tang, it may have housed about 1,000,000 residents. Built on wealth from the Silk Road, it was famous for its monasteries, libraries, scholarship, and prized relics (including four of Buddha’s teeth), as well as for its trade economy (it saw the invention of the bill of exchange). The neighbourhood system of gridded-square-blocks (fangs) was planned by imperial engineer Yuwen Kai (555–612 CE).

It became the model for city planning throughout China, Korea, and Japan but was mostly demolished in 904 CE when the capital was moved to Luoyang. Read: The main temple, a series of terraced platforms surrounded by an immense artificial moat, illustrated the sacred order of the universe while marking the location of sacred springs, the origin of mankind. The temple housed a priest cult; the priests were viewed as guardians and representatives of this sacred universe. Read: A Global History of Architecture, “800 CE” (“Tiwanaku,” p. 344) Image: It was intended to enshrine the tomb of Christ and the site of the discovery of the “true cross.” The most venerated pilgrimage site in Christendom, it was later the destination of numerous crusades. It included a colonnaded atrium for the mass assembly of the faithful, a basilica church, and a rotunda containing the tomb. It provided the model for numerous “copies,” such as San Stefano, in Bologna.

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