Wutoumen refers to a type of elaborate gateway used in high ranking buildings through the Song dynasty, after which it declines in use. As we can tell from paintings and extant examples, the shape, size, and structure of wutoumen vary considerably. However, all wutoumen employ tall pillars flanking the gate. The name is likely derived from the raven-black ceramic tube-shaped finials on the top of these tall gate posts Cefu yuangui (Wang Qinruo (962-1025) 61.687). Detailed records of wutoumen exist in the Song dynasty Yingzao fashi (Li Jie 2009, 6.2a-4a). 3
The earliest known reference for the term wutoumen is in the Luoyang qielanji (547 CE) by Yang Xuanzhi (Zhou and Yang 2010, 8) and the term can be found in documents and images through the Tang and Song dynasties. There are several other names for wutoumen, including wutou damen 烏頭大門, biaojie 表楬, fayue 閥閱, and lingxingmen 欞星門 (see YZFS 2009, 6.13a, see also the illustrations and related concepts, below).4
During the Tang and Song dynasties wutoumen were usually used alone as the main gateway into the houses of officials of the fifth and sixth ranks (Tianyige bowuguan 2006, 344). They were also used in combinations of three, particularly as gateways leading to altars, temples, and palaces. In this case, the middle gate was larger than those on the two sides. Sometimes, wutoumen were used for side gates of administrative offices or in city fortifications.5
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- 1 漢語大詞典編纂処. 2011. 漢語大詞典
- 2 GUO. 2002. A Visual Dictionary of Chinese Architecture, 83.
- 3 李. 2009. 營造法式(故宫藏抄本), 6.2a-4a.
- 4 周. 2010. 洛阳伽蓝记校释, 8.; 李. 2009. 營造法式(故宫藏抄本), 6.13a.
- 5 天一閣博物館. 2006. 天一閣藏明鈔本天聖令校證, 344.
- 6 李. 2009. 營造法式(故宫藏抄本), 6.2a-4a.; 天一閣博物館. 2006. 天一閣藏明鈔本天聖令校證, 344.
How to Cite This Entry
Bibliography:SUN Xiaoqian 孫曉倩 et al., “ 烏頭門 wūtóumén.” In Architectura Sinica, edited by Tracy Miller. Entry published April 8, 2021. https://architecturasinica.org/keyword/k000181.
About this Entry
Entry Title: 烏頭門 wūtóumén
Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:
- Tracy Miller, editor, Architectura Sinica
- ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净, associate editor, Architectural Terminology
- SUN Xiaoqian 孫曉倩 and ZHAO Yuqian 趙與謙, entry contributors, “ 烏頭門 wūtóumén”
- Website coordination by Yuh-Fen Benda
- Preliminary research CMW 2021
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- English proofreading by Aurelia Campbell Tracy Miller
- Chinese proofreading by ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净 ZUO Lala 左拉拉
- Data entry and adding notes and citations by MIAO Tongxi 繆彤茜
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