A tile component used at both ends of the roof ridge (zhengji 正脊) of traditional Chinese palatial halls（diantang lei jianzhu 殿堂類建築). Their specific shape can include owl or hawk tails (chiwei 鴟尾), dragon tails (longwei 龍尾), and beast heads (shoutou 獸頭). Different names for this feature were also used over time, including sea-beast tails (chiwei 蚩尾), shrine tails (ciwei 祠尾), owl or hawk beaks (chiwen 鴟吻), central lips or jaws（zhengwen 正吻) and great lips or jaws (da wen 大吻). Before the mid-Tang dynasty chiwei were usually a simple tail arching inwards and decorated with fin or feather patterns on the outer edge. In the mid-Tang we see the added pattern of a beast head with an open mouth, and the tail gradually transitioning into that of a fish. The chiwei in the mid-Tang dynasty cliff relief carvings at Lingyun Monastery, Leshan, Sichuan, for instance, are shaped like the head of a fish with a wide mouth engulfing the ends of the roof ridge. Beginning in the Yuan Dynasty, the chiwei tail arched outwards instead of inwards. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the beast's head opened its mouth around the ridge, the tail curved outward, and the end (duanbu 端部) changed from bifurcated (fencha 分叉) to curled (卷曲). Furthermore, dragons and swords were attached to the body of the beast and its shape was squared off. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, chiwei were commonly called chiwen, shouwen, or dawen. The term appears in the statutory documents of official histories like the Chenshu and the Songshi where the types and grades of buildings that can use chiwei are regulated, thus it would have been a marker of high status. Provisions for the size, manufacture, man hours, and other regulations for the use of chiwei on different types of buildings are outlined in the Yingzao fashi (1103 CE), 13.5a-b.
鴟吻; 龍尾; 吻獸; 正吻
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- 1 ATTCAT 2018; FU, Traditional Chinese Architecture: Twelve Essays, 351.
- 2 李, YZFS, 13.5a-b.; 陈, 《营造法式》辞解, 427.; 潘, 《营造法式》解读, 163.; 王, 中国古建筑术语辞典, 329-330.; 王, 中國建築圖解詞典, 9.; 村田, 中国鸱尾史略(上), 57-64+51.; 村田, 中国鸱尾史略(下), 67-68+17.; 黃, 中国鴟尾の起源と変遷, 68-100.
- 3 LIANG, Chinese architecture, 42.
- 4 GUO, A Visual Dictionary of Chinese Architecture 中國建築英漢雙解辭典, 24.
Broad Match: Roofing Tiles
How to Cite This Entry
Bibliography:JIA Tingli 賈亭立, “ 鴟尾 chīwěi.” In Architectura Sinica, edited by Tracy Miller. Entry published May 22, 2019. https://architecturasinica.org/keyword/k000009.
About this Entry
Entry Title: 鴟尾 chīwěi
Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:
- Tracy Miller, editor, Architectura Sinica
- JIA Tingli 賈亭立, entry contributor, “ 鴟尾 chīwěi”
- Initial research and revision by JIA Tingli 賈亭立
- Peer review by ATTCAT 2018
- Editing and proofreading by Tracy Miller
- Data entry and revision by Tracy Miller
- Adding citations Melanie Lu
- Revising title statement by SUN Zheng 孫正
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