dítái 敵臺



  • ditai (Pinyin without tones)1
  • 敵臺 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 敌台 (Simplified Chinese)
  • dítái (Pinyin)1
  • ti-t'ai (Wade-Giles)
  • defensive platform (lit. ATTCAT 2022) (English)


    Meaning, literally, “resisting platform,” (Kroll 2015, 82, 440) ditai is a platform structure used for lookout and defense. Based on location and function, ditai can be divided into three categories: ditai in city walls, ditai in the Great Wall, and freestanding ditai. Although the forms and development of these three types of ditai differed, they affected each other to a certain extent. According to the current historical documents, the term ditai first appeared in the Ming dynasty Ming Taizong Wen huangdi shilu 明太宗文皇帝實錄 (Zhongyang yanjiuyuan lishi yuyan yanjiusuo 1963, 125.5a).2

    Ditai were originally established in order to strengthen the defense of strategic locations in city walls. They were also built independently within cities and fields, mainly for lookout and defense. During the Chenghua period (1465-1488) of the Ming dynasty, ditai began to be used in the construction of the Great Wall (Zhongyang yanjiuyuan lishi yuyan yanjiusuo 1963, 130.5b-6a). In the Jiajing period (1522-1567), they gradually became a distinct form attached to, but higher than, the Great Wall, and a coordinated defense system was thus formed. The ditai along the Great Wall also began to be built with enterable interior spaces, which may in turn have affected the addition of interior spaces in ditai built on city walls (Qi 1847, 6.2a-3b). 3

    In military texts dating from the Jiajing period (1522-1567) onwards, we see an increase in the use of the term ditai in relation to city walls. In addition, the requirements for the density of ditai, the defensive cooperation between adjacent ditai, and the role of the ditai in the city wall defense system were clarified (Yin 1906, 7a-8b; Lü 1683, 9.3b; Zhao 2018,636-637). It was also in the Jiajing period that so-called xu ditai (“void enemy towers”), similar to the hollow ditai on the Great Wall, appeared in discussions of fortifications (Zhao 2018,638). The shape and function of the ditai are similar to the mamian recorded in the military texts of the Song dynasty. Since the Jiajing period , the term ditai began to appear in local gazetteers in large numbers. When the term appears in relation to city walls in the gazetteers written from 1522-1620 it appears to be frequently used as a synonym for the Song dynasty term mamian. Freestanding ditai are also recorded in the Ming dynasty Veritable Records (Shilu), military books, and local gazetteers. 4

    敵臺是用於瞭望與守禦的台狀構築物。根據出現的位置和使用方式,可分為用於城池的城池敵臺、用於長城的長城敵臺和獨立使用的獨立敵臺三類。這三類敵臺的具體形制和發展軌跡有所不同,但在一定程度上又互相影響。據目前所見歷史文獻,敵臺一詞最早出現在明代《明太宗文皇帝實錄》中(中央硏究院歷史語言硏究所 1963, 125.5a)。 2

    敵臺最先出現時,多為加強城池城牆重要位置的防禦而設,或在城內以及野外要塞處獨立使用,主要起瞭望與禦敵的作用。明代成化年间,敵臺開始出現於長城的建設上(中央硏究院歷史語言硏究所 1963,130.5b-6a),到嘉靖時期逐漸形成明確的附牆且高於長城牆體的形制,以及相互配合的防禦系統。此外還出現空心敵臺的形式。(戚 1847,6.2a-3b)這些很可能又反過來影響了城池敵臺發展與形制的明確。从嘉靖開始,兵書中關於城池敵臺的記載增多,並明確了高於城牆且向外凸出的形制,以及對敵臺密度的要求,強調相鄰敵臺間的防禦配合,明確敵臺在城牆防禦系統中瞭望和禦敵的作用(尹 1906,7a-8b;吕 1683,9.3b;赵 2018,636-637),同時還出現了類似于長城上空心敵臺的“虛敵臺”設想(赵 2018,638)。這樣的形制與功能類似於宋代兵書中記載的馬面這一城池防禦設施。且從嘉靖起,地方誌中敵臺一詞開始大量出現。結合目前留存的明清城牆實物,明清地方誌中的城池敵臺很可能是宋代馬面的稱謂替代。關於獨立敵臺,從文獻記載看,明代實錄、兵書與地方誌中均有記錄,並且貫穿明朝始終。 3,, 4

Works Cited

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

  • 1 漢語大詞典編纂処. 2011. 漢語大詞典, accessed June 12, 2022.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 2 KROLL. 2015. A Student's Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese, 82, 440.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 中央硏究院歷史語言硏究所. 1963. 明太宗文皇帝實録, 125.5a.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 3 中央硏究院歷史語言硏究所. 1963. 明憲宗純皇帝實録, 130.5b-6a.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 戚. 1847. 練兵實紀, 6.2a-3b.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 4 尹. 1906. 鄉約, 7a-8b.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 呂. 1683. 實政錄, 9.3b.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record; 趙. 2018. 城書, 636-637, 638.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record

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How to Cite This Entry

JIA Tingli 贾亭立 et al., “ 敵臺 dítái” in Architectura Sinica last modified May 31, 2023, https://architecturasinica.org/keyword/k000203.


JIA Tingli 贾亭立 et al., “ 敵臺 dítái.” In Architectura Sinica, edited by Tracy Miller. Entry published May 25, 2022. https://architecturasinica.org/keyword/k000203.

About this Entry

Entry Title: 敵臺 dítái

Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

  • Tracy Miller, editor, Architectura Sinica
  • ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净, associate editor, Architectural Terminology
  • JIA Tingli 贾亭立 and PENG Yin 彭隐, entry contributors, “ 敵臺 dítái

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  • Website coordination by Yuh-Fen Benda
  • Initial research and revision by PENG Yin 彭隐 CMW M22
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  • Entry of revised data and links by LI Zhixian 李知賢

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