• cao (Pinyin without tones)1
  • (Traditional Chinese)
  • (Simplified Chinese)
  • cáo (Pinyin)2
  • ts'ao (Wade-Giles)
  • troughs (lit.) (English)3
  • footing (English)4


    Literally meaning "trough" or "troughs", cao is an architectural term seen in the Yingzao fashi (1103), the Gongcheng zuofa (1734), and other texts that involve architectural descriptions, including the Sitaji (843-853) and the Tang Huiyao (961). It is generally agreed that in the Gongcheng zuofa the term refers to trough-shaped pits dug for narrow sections or strips of pounded-earth foundation. Interpretations of the term and its relevant plates in the Yingzao fashi are under debate. Scholars have suggested that it can refer to (1) the space enclosed by pillars, forehead rails (lan’e 闌額) and corbelling (puzuo 鋪作) (Chen Mingda 1981; cf. Liang Sicheng 1944); (2) the axis between the pillar row and corbelling (puzuo) (He Jianzhong 2003; cf. Liang Sicheng 1983); (3) an elongated structural unit within the corbelling (puzuo) (Zhu Yongchun 2016); and (4) pillar rows and wall planes in general (Ren Sijie 2016).5

    作爲傳統營造術語,主要見於《營造法式》(1103) 和工部《工程做法》(1734),也見於其他談及建築的傳統文獻,如《寺塔記》、《唐會要》等。《工部工程做法》的“槽”含義相對明確,指夯築條形基礎的基槽。而《營造法式》所謂“槽”的具體含義存在爭議:一說是由鋪作劃分的各種空間(陳明達 1981;參考梁思成 1944);一說是柱列與其上的鋪作或鋪作之中心線(何建中 2003;參考梁思成 1983);一説指代鋪作層構成的長條狀圖形(朱永春 2016);另有觀點認爲其得名與基槽有關,後汎指柱列或墻體及其所在位置(任思捷 2016)。5

Related concepts

Works Cited

Any information without attribution has been created following the Syriaca.org editorial guidelines.

  • 1 GUO. 2002. A Visual Dictionary of Chinese Architecture, 21.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; FU. 2017. Traditional Chinese Architecture: Twelve Essays, 350.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 2 陳. 2010. 《營造法式》辭解, 405.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 3 MILLER. 2007. The Divine Nature of Power: Chinese Ritual Architecture at the Sacred Site of Jinci, 199.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 4 REN. 2016. Foguangsi on Mount Wutai : Architecture of Politics and Religion, 368-375.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 5 李. 2009. 營造法式 (1103; 故宫藏抄本), 卷 31.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 王. 1995. 工程做法注释Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 段. 1964. 寺塔記Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 王. 1991. 唐會要(點校本)Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 梁. 1984. 記五台山佛光寺的建築(1944), 13-44.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 陳. 1981. 營造法式大木作研究, 115-116.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 梁. 1983. 《營造法式》註釋卷上, 267-268.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 陳. 2010. 《營造法式》辭解, 405.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 喬. 2012. 宋代官式建築營造及其技術, 79-81.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 何. 2003. 何謂《營造法式》之“槽”, 41-43.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 朱. 2016. 《營造法式》中殿閣地盤分槽圖的探索與引論Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; REN. 2016. Foguangsi on Mount Wutai : Architecture of Politics and ReligionLink to Zotero Bibliographic Record

Broad Match: building frame

Broad Match: foundations

How to Cite This Entry

REN Sijie 任思捷, “ cáo” in Architectura Sinica last modified February 1, 2023, https://architecturasinica.org/keyword/k000005.


REN Sijie 任思捷, “ cáo.” In Architectura Sinica, edited by Tracy Miller. Entry published December 5, 2018. https://architecturasinica.org/keyword/k000005.

About this Entry

Entry Title: cáo

Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

  • Tracy Miller, editor, Architectura Sinica
  • ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净, associate editor, Architectural Terminology
  • REN Sijie 任思捷, entry contributor, “ cáo

Additional Credit:

  • Website coordination by Yuh-Fen Benda
  • Initial research and revision by REN Sijie 任思捷
  • Peer review by ATTCAT 2018
  • Entry creation by Tracy Miller
  • Proofreading and data entry Tracy Miller
  • English proofreading by Aurelia Campbell
  • Chinese proofreading by ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净
  • Adding various languages and revising title statement by SUN Zheng

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