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Pavilions (Ting)

 

A common sight in the country, the Chinese pavilion (ting, which means also a kiosk) is built normally either of wood or stone or bamboo and may be in any of several plan figures-- square, triangle, hexagon, octagon, a five-petal flower, a fan and what not. But all pavilions described as ting have this in common: they have columns to support the roof, but no walls. In parks or at scenic spots, pavilions are built on slopes to command the panorama or on lakeside to create intriguing images in the water. They are not only part of the landscape but also belvederes from which to enjoy it.

Pavilions also serve diverse purposes. The wayside pavilion is called liangting (cooling kiosk) to provide weary wayfarers with a place for a rest and a shelter in summer from the sun. The "stele pavilion" gives a roof to a stone tablet to protect the engraved record of an important event. Pavilions also stand on some bridges or over water-wells. In the latter case, dormer windows are built to allow the sun to cast its rays into the well, as it has been the belief that water untouched by the sun would cause diseases. Occasionally one finds two pavilions stand side by side like twins. In modern times, kiosks (also called ting in Chinese) have been erected in urban areas as postal stalls, newsstands or photographers' sheds for snapshot services.

Rare among pavilions are those built of bronze. The most celebrated of these is Baoyunge (Pavilion of Precious Clouds) in Beijing's Summer Palace. The entire structure including its roof and columns is cast in bronze. Metallic blue in colour, it is 7.5 metres tall and weighs 207 tons. Elegant and dignified, it is popularly known as the "Gold Pavilion."

The largest pavilion in China is also in the Summer Palace. The ancient building, named Kunninggong(the Pavilion of Expanse), has a floor space of 130 square metres. Its roof, converging in a crown on top and resting on three rings of columns (24 round ones and 16 square ones), is octagonal in form and has two eaves. With all its woodwork colourfully painted, the pavilion looks at once poised and majestic, well in harmony with the surrounding open landscape.

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