Symbolic architectural adornments from the Ming dynasty
To mark the opening of Ming: The Golden Empire in Palma de Mallorca, Spain on 3 November, 2016 at CaixaForum Palma, the object of the month for November focuses on the magnificent architectural objects within the exhibition’s collection.
As traditional Chinese buildings were predominantly wooden, many decorative architectural ornaments were symbolically associated with water and placed on the roof to protect the building against fire. Roofs were also, particularly through use of colour, indicators of building function and of social status.
The primary function of the roof in Ming China was, of course, protection from the elements. However, they also held an important supernatural role; the rooftops of ancient China were decorated with figures, zoomorphic ornaments and motifs which were thought to ward off evil spirits.
The architectural ornaments featured in the exhibition are exceptional examples of architectural craftsmanship dating from the Hongwu reign (1368 – 1398).