páilóu 牌樓



  • pailou (Pinyin without tones)2
  • 牌樓 (Traditional Chinese)
  • 牌楼 (Simplified Chinese)
  • páilóu (Pinyin)2
  • p'ai-lou (Wade-Giles)
  • monumental gateway (English)1
  • signboard tower (lit. Kroll) (English)3
  • plaque tower (lit. Kroll) (English)3


    The pailou functions to mark specific locations, divide space, and commemorate virtuous individuals and actions. The ‘lou’ in pailou can refer to a roof or eaves (Guo 2002, 61), however, in Ming dynasty literature, the term pailou was widely used and was often used interchangeably with the term paifang. For example, in the Jiajing Dezhou zhi 嘉靖德州志, pailou are recorded under the chapter on paifang, suggesting that pailou and paifang refer to the same objects (Zheng and He 1522-1566, 1.13a). The term paifang was often used to emphasize why the structure was erected, while the term pailou was used to emphasize the location. These structures were so symbolic in their appearance that they became the markers of specific places. Junctions composed of multiple paifang structures at road intersections were often found in cities, such as the “Four Pailou” and “Three Pailou” in Nanjing. 4

    牌樓作为建築物,具有標識區域、劃分空間、旌表德行等作用。“牌樓”一詞在明代文獻中大量使用,常与“牌坊”混用,例如在《嘉靖德州志》中,在牌坊條下記載了牌樓(鄭和何 1522-1566,1.13a)。但两者在建筑形式上没有区别。4


Related concepts

Works Cited

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

  • 1 GUO. 2002. A Visual Dictionary of Chinese Architecture, 61.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 2 漢語大詞典編纂処. 2011. 漢語大詞典, accessed June 12, 2022.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 3 KROLL. 2016. A Student's Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese, accessed May 10, 2023.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 4 鄭. 1522-1566. 嘉靖德州誌, 1.13a.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record

How to Cite This Entry

SUN Xiaoqian 孙晓倩 et al., “ 牌樓 páilóu” in Architectura Sinica last modified May 31, 2023, https://architecturasinica.org/keyword/k000213.


SUN Xiaoqian 孙晓倩 et al., “ 牌樓 páilóu.” In Architectura Sinica, edited by Tracy Miller. Entry published May 30, 2022. https://architecturasinica.org/keyword/k000213.

About this Entry

Entry Title: 牌樓 páilóu

Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

  • Tracy Miller, editor, Architectura Sinica
  • ZHUGE Jing 諸葛净, associate editor, Architectural Terminology
  • SUN Xiaoqian 孙晓倩 and LIN Xingyu 林星雨, entry contributors, “ 牌樓 páilóu

Additional Credit:

  • Website coordination by Yuh-Fen Benda
  • Initial research and revision by LIN Xingyu 林星雨 CMW M22
  • Data entry by CHEN Zhuo 陈卓
  • Entry of revised data and links by LI Zhixian 李知賢

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