Shaliangtou 厦兩頭, literally “with a "mansion" on either end” (Kroll 2016, 492, 458), only appears as a technical term of architecture in the literature of the Tang and Song dynasties. Here it refers to a roof form used on a tingtang 廳堂 building. It is similar to the xieshan roof in the Qing dynasty, which is commonly translated as “hip-gable” or “hip-and-gable” roof, or a roof composed of four slopes and two gables in which corner beams extend at a 45 degree angle to support eaves sheltering the corner of the building. 4
In the Tang dynasty, only officials of the fifth rank or above were allowed to use shaliangtou in their houses. The same form of roof used in diantang 殿堂 buildings is called jiujidian 九脊殿 (nine-ridged hall) (Tianyige Musuem 2006, 344).5
Although usually treated as a single technical term, in translating the characters literally, shaliangtou might also be interpreted as a construction method for a roof structure. In the context of Tang-Song literature, xialiangtou may be read as a verbal phrase, meaning either “to [add a lower] set of eaves (xia 厦 here meaning a mansion or additional building) to the sides of a building (liangtou 兩頭)” or “to make a gable on both ends of the roof ridge (xia 厦, working as a verb meaning “to cut”; sha 厦 as homonym for sha 殺 or xia 下) the two ends of a hip roof at the roof ridge, or “to make into a Xia 夏 dynasty-style roof” (if Xia-style meant “gabled”). In this case, “Xia liangtou” would not be a technical term. Further research is necessary to confirm the viability of this interpretation. Textual sources indicate that in the eleventh century the pronunciation of the term was also variable (《廣韻》1008, 四庫全書本，卷六，60; 《集韻》1039, 四庫全書本，卷八，51). 7
In Song dynasty paintings one can find many images of buildings with gable roofs where shed roofs (piyan 披簷) are added to the gable ends. However, this roof form, where eaves shelter all four sides of the building without the use of corner beams to create a full hip roof sheltering the corner columns, does not appear to have been considered shaliangtou in either style or building technique.
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- 1 FU. 2017. Traditional Chinese Architecture: Twelve Essays, 365.
- 2 GUO. 2002. A Visual Dictionary of Chinese Architecture, 83.
- 3 LIANG. 2005. Chinese architecture: a pictorial history, 190.
- 4 KROLL. 2016. A Student's Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese, 492, 458.
- 5 天一閣博物館. 2006. 天一閣藏明鈔本天聖令校證, 344.
- 6 天一閣博物館. 2006. 天一閣藏明鈔本天聖令校證, 344.; 李. 2009. 營造法式(故宫藏抄本), 5.6a.
- 7 2021. ATTCAT 2021, accessed 2021.
Broad Match: roof types
How to Cite This Entry
Bibliography:ZHANG Xu 張旭 et al., “ 厦兩頭 shàliǎngtóu.” In Architectura Sinica, edited by Tracy Miller. Entry published September 18, 2021. https://architecturasinica.org/keyword/k000185.
About this Entry
Entry Title: 厦兩頭 shàliǎngtóu
Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:
- Tracy Miller, editor, Architectura Sinica
- ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净, associate editor, Architectural Terminology
- ZHANG Xu 張旭 and JIA Tingli 賈亭立, entry contributors, “ 厦兩頭 shàliǎngtóu”
- Website coordination by Yuh-Fen Benda
- Data entry, adding notes, links and citations 2021 by HUANG Danni 黄聃婗
- Initial research and revision by ZHANG Xu 張旭 JIA Tingli 賈亭立
- 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
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