As early as the neolithic
period, a basic principle of Chinese architecture was
already established, wherein columns spaced at intervals,
rather than walls, provided the support for the roof.
Walls came to serve merely as enclosing screens.
Although the typical
Chinese roof probably developed during the Shang
(c.1523-1027 B.C.) or the Chou (1027-c.256 B.C.) period,
its features are unknown to us until the Han dynasty.
Then it appeared in the form that we recognize today as a
hallmark of Chinese architecture - a graceful,
overhanging roof, sometimes in several tiers, with
upturned eaves. The roof rests on a series of four-part
brackets, which in turn are supported by other clusters
of brackets set on columns.
were soon realized in the colorful glazed tiling of roofs
and the carving and painting of brackets, which became
: Painted Decoration : Beams and Ceilings