Why do Chinese pagodas have curved roofs?


Why do Chinese pagodas have a curved roof?

Slender silhouettes of pagodas with graceful roofs made of multi-colored tiles have long been the hallmark of the Celestial Empire, and their unusual shape is explained by many reasons: from mystical to aesthetic.

Explanation #1. Mystical legend

For example, a popular oriental legend says that demons, due to their demonic nature, can only move in straight lines, and the curved roof prevents them from entering a house or pagoda.

Explanation #2. An aesthetic legend

And connoisseurs of beauty say that the complex shape of the roof is similar to the natural bends of branches or the outlines of a mountain range.

Explanation #3. Practical

The tradition of building houses with wide cornices is rooted in antiquity: the roofs that cover the building like an umbrella appeared in the 1st century. They protected wooden buildings from rains, during which water washed away the foundations and even flowed in through windows and cracks in the walls. Thanks to the overhanging roof, rain streams did not destroy the houses. But the design also had a minus: it prevented sunlight from entering the room, greatly shading it. The problem was solved around the 2nd century – the corners of the roofs were slightly raised up, and the buildings became not only dry, but also light.

In addition, such structures were distinguished by earthquake resistance, and in the 10th century there was even a saying in China: “Walls may collapse, but the roof will never collapse.” The roof was supported not by walls, but by a complex system of pillars and beams. The central pillar dampened vibrations during earthquakes, and the curved edges of the roofs made it possible to redistribute the weight and reduce the load on the corner supports.

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