dougong (bracket; bracketing)


  • bracket; bracketing (English)
  • dǒugǒng (Pinyin)
  • blocks(s) and bracket arm(s) (English)
  • bracket set (English)
  • bracket-block cluster (English)
  • tou-kung (Wade-Giles)
  • 枓栱 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 斗栱 (Simplified Chinese)


In traditional Chinese timber-frame architecture, the dougong is the most conspicuous component. In general, it means a unit consisting of a number of mortised blocks (dou), arms (gong), tie-beams (fang) and inclined beams (ang). They are often usedunder the eaves, on beams, or on the tops of the pillar.

According to the research of Zhong Xiaoqing, the first use of “dougong” as a compound word can be traced to the Sui dynasty translation of the Scripture on the Original Vows of the Medicine Tathāgata (藥師如來本願經). Within the sutra we read [about the adornment of the Pure Lapis Lazuli Realm]... “city-gate towers, walls and parapets, doors and windows, halls and pavilions, pillars and beams, bracket arms and blocks [bracketing], surrounding like a nets, all composed of the seven jewels” (鍾曉青,2010:113-119; T449_.14.0402a21-22). After this the phrase gradually became a set technical term, and can be found in a number of different textual sources. The earliest visual evidence we presently have is thought to be the bracketing found on the dragon-phoenix tablebase excavated from the Warring States Period Zhongshan royal necropolis in Pingshan, Hebei province (ca. 310 BCE; 鍾曉青,2010:113-119). From the Han dynasty onward we have many extant examples of dougong in the visual record. (Ying BAI, 2018, ATTCAT)


在歷史文獻中,根據鐘曉青的研究,以枓栱作為名詞指代特定的對象始於隋代大業十二年(616年)所譯的《佛說藥師如來本願經》,經文中提到 “城闕、垣牆、門窗、堂閣、柱樑、斗栱,周匝羅網,皆七寶成”。(鍾曉青,2010:113-119)之後,逐漸成為固定的術語,普遍見於各類文獻中。目前最早的枓栱形象,一般認為是出土的戰國時期河北平山中山王墓的龍鳳銅案上的枓栱。(鍾曉青,2010:113-119)在漢代以後的遺存中,枓栱形象多見. (白穎, 2018, ATTCAT)

Related Concepts: puzuo 鋪作; ang 昂

Sources and Contributors:

bracket; bracketing ATTCAT 斗栱 (1) (隋)達摩笈多譯. 佛說藥師如來本願經. 大正新脩大藏經.第14冊 .No. 449.第一卷. CBETA 電子佛典 2016.06: T0449_.14.0402a21。。。琉璃爲地。城闕垣墻門窓堂閣 ; T0449_.14.0402a22: 柱樑斗拱周匝羅網。皆七寶成。如極樂國。.。。

枓栱 (2)(宋)李誡著.故宫博物院编.(故宫藏抄本)營造法式.北京:紫禁城出版社,2009. 卷四,十一頁。

bracket set(s)(3) Fu Xinian. Traditional Chinese Architecture: Twelve Essays. Princeton University Press, 2017: 353; (4) Qinghua Guo, The Structure of Chinese Timber Architecture, Minerva Press, 1999:

bracket-block cluster (5) Fu Xinian. Traditional Chinese Architecture. Princeton University Press, 2017: 353

Broad Match: Building Frame

External relationships (1)

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dougong (bracket; bracketing)” in Architectura Sinica last modified May 14, 2019,


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