- ganlan (Pinyin without tones)
- 干闌 (Traditional Chinese)1
- 干欄 (Traditional Chinese)2
- 干栏 (Simplified Chinese)
- gānlán (Pinyin)3
- kan-lan (Wade-Giles)
- Pile structures or dwellings (ATTCAT preferred translation) (English)
- Pile-dwelling (English)4
- Stilt house (English)5
- (raised) pile balustrade (lit.) (English)8
Ganlan is a type of wooden or bamboo building raised above the ground on piles. The first known occurrence of the term is in the Liao zhuan 獠傳 (Biography of Liao) in the Wei shu (Book of Wei) (Wei 1974, 2248). In this text, the term ganlan was considered to be a transliteration of a Southern Man (Nanman 南蠻) term for a house into Chinese characters. The house type was characterized by an elevated platform (Dai 1948, 7).6
In the modern Chinese academic context, ganlan is a generic term for raised-floor buildings of the type found in southwest China and Southeast Asia. The structure and details of ganlan vary from era to era and region to region.
Ganlan architecture is still widely used in Southwest China and Southeast Asia because its upper raised structure can better handle the humid weather and diverse terrain. The shady space under the structure is usually used for keeping livestock.
Archaeological research has shown that ganlan buildings were used during the Neolithic Period, and into the Shang, Zhou, Han dynasties, with a regional distribution across not only Southern China (An 1963, 85) but also, by the Shang dynasty (Yang 2001, 52), into the Central Plains. The use of ganlan structures during this period was not restricted to dwellings but also included granaries, a technique seen across East and Southeast Asia.7
The English terms most closely corresponding to ganlan are "pile-dwelling" and "stilt-house." But strictly speaking, stilt refers to a structure elevated above the ground on posts resting on bases, while pile usually refers to an elevated structure where the posts are sunk directly into the ground. In the modern context, pile may also refer to both situations in general. Therefore, "pile" is probably the most appropriate English translation of ganlan.
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- 1 李. 1974. 北史
- 2 杜. 1988. 通典（校點本）
- 3 漢語大詞典編纂処. 2011. 漢語大詞典
- 4 GUO. 2002. A Visual Dictionary of Chinese Architecture, 38.
- 5 FU. 2017. Traditional Chinese Architecture: Twelve Essays, 355.
- 6 魏. 1974. 魏書, 2248.; 戴. 1948. 干蘭—西南中國原始住宅的研究, 7.
- 7 安. 1963. “干兰”式建筑的考古研究, 85.; 杨. 2001. 宮殿考古通论, 52.
- 8 KROLL. 2015. A Student's Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese, 127-128, 252-253.
Broad Match: building frame
How to Cite This Entry
Bibliography:BAI Ying 白穎 et al., “ 干欄 gānlán.” In Architectura Sinica, edited by Tracy Miller. Entry published April 2, 2021. https://architecturasinica.org/keyword/k000160.
About this Entry
Entry Title: 干欄 gānlán
Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:
- Tracy Miller, editor, Architectura Sinica
- ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净, associate editor, Architectural Terminology
- BAI Ying 白穎 and ZHANG Jin 張靖, entry contributors, “ 干欄 gānlán”
- Website coordination by Yuh-Fen Benda
- Preliminary research CMW 2021
- Peer review by ATTCAT 2021
- English proofreading by Aurelia Campbell Tracy Miller
- Chinese proofreading by ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净 ZUO Lala 左拉拉
- Data entry, adding citations and gloss 2021 by FU Shiyi 付詩怡
- Adding citations and notes by MIAO Tongxi 繆彤茜
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