In traditional Chinese architecture, zhuchu (literally the stone plinth or foundation (chu 礎) of a pillar (zhu 柱) (Kroll 2015, 58; Hanyu dacidian online)) generally refers to the stone that supports a pillar. It consists of an upper part aboveground which supports the pillar foot (zhujiao 柱脚) and a lower part buried underground, the top of which is generally level with the surface of the building platform. The style and material of pillar bases differs according to time and region. In early human settlements, there is evidence that wooden planks or wooden blocks were used as pillar bases. In the southern part of China, two separate parts work together to support the pillar. The upper one is called gudeng 鼓磴 (lit. “drum step”), the lower one is sangshi 磉石 (lit. “pillar base stone”), both are made of stone. The stone “drums” of traditional architecture in the southern part of China and the stone blocks supporting the stone drums jointly assume the role of pillar bases. The pillar base can effectively prevent the decay of the wooden pillar foot by raising it off the wet ground. Furthermore, by stopping the absorption of moisture around the pillar foot, it helps prevent the shrinkage of the wood (ATTCAT 2019). 9
The first mention of the term zhuchu we have found is in the Huainanzi by Liu An (179 BCE-122 BCE). Here chu 礎 was glossed as “the stone under the pillar (zhu xia shi 柱下石)” by the Eastern Han dynasty scholar Gao You 高誘 (d. 212). The Yingzao fashi 營造法式 (1103) provides information on the meaning of zhuchu and outlines their visual characteristics, including size, shape, and engraved decoration (Li 2009, 3.5b).10
Zhuchu has many synonyms. In addition to zhuchu, zhudingshi 柱頂石, first mentioned in the Ming dynasty Wanli period（1573-1620), was generally used in Ming and Qing dynasties. Zhuchu was given a broad interpretation in Yingzao fayuan 營造法原 , as "the foundation of the pillar, including the stone base under the sangshi 磉石” (姚 et al. 1986, 112). In other words, the whole stone support system under the pillar was called zhuchu. 11
According to archaeological evidence found at the Yangshao culture site of Hougang, Anyang, Henan province, in the Neolithic period stone blocks were already used to line the bottom of deep post holes. In the Shang period Yinxu culture site at Anyang we see the method of using naturally formed pebbles as pillar bases; at the same time the remains of bronze (foundation) blocks have been found. At the Middle Western Zhou site of Zhaocheng, Fufeng, Shaanxi province, pounded earth was combined with the use of large foundation stones in the construction of the building foundation. Here the tops of foundation stones were level with the building platform, and the bottoms were set below the frost line. By the Western Han dynasty, pillar bases could be either round or square and extend above the floor level, effectively resolving the problem of water damage caused by burial of the pillar foot. Pillar bases after the Han dynasty underwent a number of changes in form, but resolved to a set variety of types by the Tang and Song dynasties (Liu 2003, 103; Li 1978, 14; Yang 2008, 152-157; Tang 1959, 45-55, 151-160, 183).12
根據考古資料，仰韶文化時期的安陽後崗遺址中，有較為成熟的深埋塊石作為柱礎的實例。安陽殷墟遺址中，有以天然卵石為柱礎的做法，同時也發現了銅鑕遺跡。西周中期陝西扶風召陳遺址中素夯土摻有大礫石夯築築基，其上置平整礫石，基底埋深至土壤凍結深度以下。最晚至西漢，柱礎或圓或方，並高出地坪，有效解決了柱腳深埋引起的水害問題。漢以後的柱礎經歷多種形式變化，唐宋逐成定式 (劉 2003, 103; 李 1978, 14; 楊 2008, 152-157; 唐 1959, 45-55, 151-160, 183)。12
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- 1 陳. 2010. 《營造法式》辭解, 249.
- 2 LIANG. 2005. Chinese architecture: a pictorial history, 10.
- 4 GUO. 2002. A Visual Dictionary of Chinese Architecture, 89.; LIANG. 1984. A Pictorial History of Chinese Architecture: A Study of the Development of Its Structural System and the Evolution of Its Types, 135.
- 5 STEINHARDT. 1997. Liao Architecture, 39.
- 6 GUO. 2002. A Visual Dictionary of Chinese Architecture, 98.; STEINHARDT. 1997. Liao Architecture, 39.
- 8 FU. 2017. Traditional Chinese Architecture: Twelve Essays, 371.
- 9 KROLL. 2015. A Student's Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese, 58.; 漢語大詞典編纂処. 2011. 漢語大詞典, accessed June 12, 2022.; 2019. ATTCAT 2019
- 10 劉. 淮南子; 李. 2009. 營造法式(故宫藏抄本), 3.5b.
- 11 姚. 1986. 营造法原, 112.
- 12 刘. 2003. 中国古代建筑史： 原始社会、夏、商、周、秦、汉建筑, 103.; 李. 1978. 國立中央研究院歷史語言研究所專刊之十三 中國考古學報 即田野考古報告, 14.; 杨. 2008. 建筑考古学论文集 增订本, 152-157.; 唐. 1959. 西安西郊汉代建筑遗址发掘报告, 45-55, 151-160, 183.
Broad Match: foundations
How to Cite This Entry
Bibliography:SUN Xiaoqian 孫曉倩 et al., “ 柱礎 zhùchǔ.” In Architectura Sinica, edited by Tracy Miller. Entry published May 18, 2020. https://architecturasinica.org/keyword/k000128.
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Entry Title: 柱礎 zhùchǔ
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- Tracy Miller, editor, Architectura Sinica
- ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净, associate editor, Architectural Terminology
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