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Oriental Architecture

( Originally Published 1915 )



The styles of architecture we have been examining have a definite relation to each other, one growing out of another, but the great oriental countries like China, Japan, and India have their own styles which have nothing to do with those we have studied; and we have left a brief mention of them until the very last.

In India there are many great buildings so wonderfully constructed, carved, and decorated as to have become truly famous. The styles are usually designated according to the three great religions of India: the Buddhist, the Jain, and the Brahman or Hindu. They all have traits in common and, as we may note in the cuts, they present an appearance of similarity. In contrast to our own ideas, they do not follow the lines of structure in their decoration. Ornament is profuse and rich and sometimes covers all parts of the buildings. Sculpture is freely used, and the interiors show multitudes of columns adorning halls and corridors. The materials are usually sandstone or brick, and nearly all the great buildings are religious temples, shrines, and monasteries.

We have seen how Mohammedan architecture came into India during the period from the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries, but even previous to that there was a fully developed style of architecture in India.

Its rise and growth are a mystery. It seems to have sprung from the soil, and to have borrowed nothing from the rest of the world. In the first cut we have an example of the temple at Benares, India.

This is in the ancient style, known as Sanskrit, from which the Jain style developed. characteristic of the Sanskrit style is the the temples, with square plan and leading tower-like shape of base, the upper part curving inwards.

The next cut shows the developed Jain architecture in the Temple at Kali, Katraha, India. The domes built in horizontal courses of pointed section, are a feature. The domes usually rest upon eight pillars, arrayed octagonally,with four more pillars at the corners completing a square in plan. The central figure in a Jain temple is a cell lighted from the door, and containing a cross-legged figure of one of the deified saints of the sect. Notice the rich carving of the exterior. Jain architecture is still practised in India. It began about the same time as Buddhist architecture and developed with it after about A.D. 450. They are closely akin to each other in many respects.

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