wèngchéng 甕城



  • wengcheng (Pinyin without tones)
  • 甕城 (Traditional Chinese)1
  • 瓮城 (Simplified Chinese)
  • wèngchéng (Pinyin)
  • weng-ch’eng (Wade-Giles)
  • jar-shaped defensive wall (lit.) (English)
  • enceinte (ATTCAT preferred) (English)2
  • barbicans (English)3
  • jar cities (English)4


    Meaning literally a "jar-shaped wall," in traditional Chinese fortifications, wengcheng refers to the enceinte built outside of gates in city walls. As explained in the Northern Song dynasty text the Wujing zongyao (1045), Chapter 12, City Wall Defenses (Shoucheng 守城), the shape can be square or round. The walls of the wengcheng are at the same height as, or slightly lower than, the main city walls. The battlements on wengcheng are connected to those on the main walls. There is often one gate in the wall of the wengcheng, but it does not align with the gate of the main city wall it is built to protect. The wengcheng in front of the more official gates, such as the main gate of a capital city wall, generally had separate gateways in their centers and sides. These would protect the gate of city wall from invaders, and allow inhabitants to defend from two directions: the top of the wengcheng (above the wengcheng gate) and the top of the city wall.

    甕城爲中國古代城牆防禦設施。北宋武經總要》 (1045) 中對其有明確定義,指圍築於城門外側的小城圈,形狀多為方形或圓形,甕城墻多與主城墻同高或稍低,墻頂外側砌垛口與主城墻垛口相連。甕城牆上一般偏開壹門,不正對主城門,較為正式的城門,如都城的正門,往往甕城在正向和偏向分別設門。甕城起到對城門的保衛作用,並可在大城、甕城上從兩個方向抵禦攻打甕城門之敵

Related concepts

Works Cited

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

  • 1 曾. 武經總要, 12.3a.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 李. 2006. 中國土木建築百科辭典:建築, 358.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 郑. 1992. 军事大辞典, 623.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 黃. 1990. 宋代城郭的防禦設施及材料, 1-23.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 2 2018. ATTCAT 2018Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; HUANG. 2001. Defensive Structures and Construction Materials in Song City Walls, 51.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 3 HUANG. 2001. Defensive Structures and Construction Materials in Song City Walls, 51.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 4 GUO. 2002. A Visual Dictionary of Chinese Architecture, 63.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record

Broad Match: fortification elements

How to Cite This Entry

JIA Tingli 賈亭立 et al., “ 甕城 wèngchéng” in Architectura Sinica last modified September 6, 2020, https://architecturasinica.org/keyword/k000089.


JIA Tingli 賈亭立 et al., “ 甕城 wèngchéng.” In Architectura Sinica, edited by Tracy Miller. Entry published May 23, 2019. https://architecturasinica.org/keyword/k000089.

About this Entry

Entry Title: 甕城 wèngchéng

Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

  • Tracy Miller, editor, Architectura Sinica
  • ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净, associate editor, Architectural Terminology
  • JIA Tingli 賈亭立 and BAO Lu 寶璐, entry contributors, “ 甕城 wèngchéng

Additional Credit:

  • Website coordination by Yuh-Fen Benda
  • Initial research and revision by JIA Tingli 賈亭立 BAO Lu 寶璐
  • Peer review by ATTCAT 2018
  • Data entry, proofreading, and revision by Tracy Miller
  • English proofreading by Aurelia Campbell
  • Chinese proofreading by ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净
  • Adding citations Song Qisen 松奇森
  • Revising title statement by SUN Zheng 孫正

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