L>Urban planning in Pre-Industrial China
Urban to plan in Pre-Industrial ChinaUS-China Review, Vol. XII No. 2 pp. 17-21

©1988 byCharles M. Nelson, Ph.D.

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In this article Dr. Nelson discusses the prestige of the political and also ideological size of urban planning in pre-industrial China and also challenges modern urban planners, an especially those native the West, to attend to these involves in the context of planning and analyzing modern Chinese cities. Dr. Nelson is one archaeologist and associate professor of sociology at the college of Massachusetts.China has actually been a focus for the advancement of urban human being for 3,600 years. A theory of city planning was first developed in the Shang empire (from c. 1600 BC) together a way of ensuring society order and also political manage within the Chinese state as a whole. As the agrarian state prospered in size and also complexity, absorbing and object numerous cultural traditions, this concept of urban planning was elaborated by the government itself, as a matter of social policy, and also so happened one that the most necessary traditions administrate the structure and operation that the Chinese state. Indeed, this traditional system of urban world was so carefully tied to social control and the applications of political strength that conquerors that China, such together the Mongols and also Manchus, to be compelled to become Chinese in order to secure the fruit of your conquests.Just together the absorption of the Mongols and Manchus deserve to be perceived as the outcome of a social confrontation between Chinese urban people and specific forms the "Asian barbarism," the recent background of China may be regarded as one analogous conflict between the Chinese metropolitan system and also the spread out of the industrial revolution. This conflict, i m sorry is still far from resolved, poses the greatest external challenge ever confronted by Chinese civilization. Together the classic structure of Chinese urban people interacts with the demands of developing and maintaining a modern industrial state, a brand-new system of metropolitan adaptation is evolving which might have much reaching consequences in the people of the the twenty-first century. To appreciate these possibilities, we must recognize the structure and breakthrough of traditional Chinese urban world over the three millennia coming before China"s commercial revolution.The Early development of metropolitan Civilization
The earliest urban in China emerged during the Shang Dynasty, a duration also significant by the breakthrough of copper technology, the first elaborate mechanism of writing, ceremonial spiritual centers, windy roads, huge public architecture, big scale warfare, taxes and an agrarian peasantry. These, that course, space the trappings that the ancient state, and Shang urban were designed and constructed come personify the state and administer innumerable governmental functions required by a government which ruled a kingdom of much more than 100,000 square miles and also controlled several, smaller sized vassal states.The technology required to construct cities in reality existed throughout the Neolithic duration centuries prior to the building and construction of the very first Shang city. By 2000 BC, towns were being created with walled ramparts or rammed earth enclosing as lot as 35 acres. The rectilinear shape, place of gates and also orderly division of space within so late Neolithic villages clearly foreshadow the structure of beforehand Chinese cities, while house foundations suggest the use of classical Chinese beam-and-frame building easily adjusted to the creation of large, public buildings.Indeed, the an initial Chinese cities represent an ext of a political and spiritual development 보다 a simple technological innovation. The ancient word because that city is yi, which signified "urban center," "capital" or "ceremonial center" throughout the Shang period. The Shang ideograph because that yi is a man kneeling in ~ an enclosure (Fig. 1). The enclosure to represent the wall of the city, the strength of the resources as the facility of the state and also the ethical authority the the state religion; the kneeling male represents the submission of all world to the temporal and also spiritual authority of the state together personified in the development of the city. Thus, the earliest cities had the mound and also alter to the local god of the earth, framework for divination, the mound and also temple come the ancestors of the king, the palace of the king, and buildings offered over come administration, storage of goods and also food, and also military offices.Notice the the ideograph because that yi shows up lo to exclude, the concept of the city together a commercial center, or market, an omission which was evidently quite deliberate. Although the archetypical Chinese city contained a sector of adequate size to serve the prompt needs of the capital, it to be strictly regulated by the state and its independent advertisement potential deliberately suppressed. Also, as at the Shang city of Ao, abandoned roughly 1,400 BC, commercial activities of an commercial character, including bronze working, bone working and pottery manufacture, to be excluded indigenous the walled portion of the city. That is only with the later spread the urban civilization that commercial markets concerned be viewed as essential elements of the city.Urban human being spread quickly in China. By the Spring and also Autumn duration (722 to 481 BC), there to be at the very least 210 cities and also several contending city states within China. Several of these to be quite huge and well arranged in an urban, political pecking order including national, provincial and district capitals. As China was combined under the Qin (221 BC) and the resulting realm elaborated and expanded under the Han (206 BC come 220 AD), the hierarchical structure of city centers, city planning, and administrative and transportation networks between populace centers were carefully emerged to prolong the principles used to organize the traditional capital (yi) together the administrative hub that the state.In the 800 years coming before the unification of China, contending states elaborated the Shang principle of the city to build competing metropolitan traditions. These differed in detail yet were expressions of shared cosmological principles that were interpreted into values of city planning the reflected the intends and organization of the state. In this cosmology, the resources city was the embodiment of the state, itself, and the connect which merged heaven, man and also earth, the 3 intelligible contents of the universe. The supreme god rule in the facility of heaven, animating the universe through qi, the heavenly breath, and also sanctioning the dominion of worthy queens with heaven"s mandate. The facility of sky was marked by the pole star, therefore qi was spread to planet along the polar meridians. Hence, old Chinese cities were to adjust out along the polar meridian, through walls and also gates spread out to challenge the cardinal directions, encompassing the social human being of men also as the bow that heaven encompassed the greater universe. The main entry, through which common mortals passed into the city, normally lay at the south finish of the polar meridian. The placement of the city and also shape and location the its walled enclosures, the place of the palace, bureaucratic buildings, temples and also markets, and the style of buildings all flowed from these cosmological principles as they were understood by geomancers and also architects.Figure 1. Antiquated and modern forms the Yi, the ancient word because that city.

But this symbolism to be not merely the abstract domain the architects and geomancers. It pervades the functional infrastructure of ancient Chinese cities. Because the city is seen as the sacred and also political essence of the state, the is us.,d to home only those persons, establishments and tasks which are clearly required to operate the administrative and spiritual functions that the state. Thus, commercial functions are not intrinsic come the principle of the city, every se, since they space not required for its to exclude, altogether, yet as cities grew in size and complexity, economic interests were integrated into the framework of capitals by producing a city outside of a city. Looking in ~ maps of old Chinese capitals, we naturally think the the imperial enclave as a city within a city, yet this is incorrect. The greater city bordering the sacred and also administrative main point of the state developed to accommodate business as urban people spread throughout China. This advancement was seen as the natural outcome the the circulation of qi, i m sorry flowed out of the secular and also sacred embodiment the the state in ~ the core city, yi, producing the better urban setting of the advertisement city.At one level of existence, the old state and its cities were cosmic build designed come capture, channel and also distribute the life-giving pressure of qi throughout the state, hence justifying the structure of the state together embodied in the structure and also interrelationships of its cities. Every city produced by a king to offer the state was designed to bring forward this spiritual task, locally directing qi and securing the mandate of heaven. Qin Shihuangdi, founder that the Qin empire (221 come 206 BC) and the first emperor to unite all China, take it this responsibility really seriously indeed. That is reported to have duplicated exactly the royal residence of every rival funding which that defeated, erecting it within the precincts of his own imperial funding at Xian in order to emphasis there all the qi native heaven"s mandate. He additionally razed the ceremonial mounds, public buildings and city wall surfaces of every conquered city, removed the secular and religious infrastructure the his rivals. Thus, he unified China spiritually and also sanctified his own bold actions.These rudimentary theories of metropolitan planning and also the structure of the state type the basis because that the advancement of later planning codes and also are reflected, also today, in the company of modem China. Beijing, the present funding of China, kept this traditional structure till 1949, as soon as the federal government of brand-new China started to remove the outer city walls to accommodate city growth. The capital, the essence of the Chinese city, tho survives to this day, however. Right here the Forbidden City (Gu gong) is surrounding by the imperial City (Zhong Nan Hai) which now sits amidst the much less well defined urban sprawl that Beijing. The southerly gate that the Forbidden City is still referred to as the Meridian Gate and also the leaders of China quiet reside in ~ the old royal City. It is tempting, despite no doubt naive, to believe that Chinese philosophers a thousand year from currently will view the leader of new China as true masters of qi, directing its vast energies v the Chinese world to create a modern-day industrial state.Reformation and also Codification the City to plan in the Han DynastyThe process of unification under the Qin to be brutal and destructive. By 215 BC, every the an excellent capitals of old China external the state that Qin were raised utterly, your officials killed or dispersed and their archives largely destroyed. Back much old knowledge was centralized in the an excellent archive in ~ Xian, this subsequently was damaged in the great civil battle which led to the establishment of the Han realm in 206 BC. The Han, bereft of codified rules because that city planning and government administration, instituted a great search for enduring scraps that archival data i beg your pardon they supplied to create fancy code the governed city planning and also the administration of the state. This synthesis attracted on the principles of archaism, centralism, organicism and moralism.Archaism search to map heaven"s mandate with the sequence of vault dynasties, making use of ancestor worship, ancient architectural forms, and also principles the spatial and administrative organization to justify the Han imperial state. Hence, the structure of cities should accord with ancient tradition and the resources should save on computer embodiments the the genealogical halls the earlier dynasties to facilitate dynastic ancestor worship and also so obtain their blessing and mandate.Centralism hosted that China to be the main Kingdom in the universe, the resources was the facility of the empire as a geocosmic entity, and the emperor to be the animating pivot about which the activities of the empire revolved. Sanctification and power devolved indigenous the imperial resources in a concentric, compartmentalized hierarchy in accordance v a design not unlike main place theory. Hence, the imperial funding was connected to the realm through an urban hierarchy of provincial capitals, state capitals, ar capitals, ar seats, communes (10 per district), and hamlets (10 every commune). Hamlets were split into wards of 5 or ten households which had cumulative responsibility for one another"s conduct. All fundings were walled cities. At the height of Han power, there were 14 provinces, 103 states and also 1,577 counties, a full of much more than 1,650 cities employed in the administration of the empire.Organicism to be elaborated in the context of the Confucian tradition type the augury mechanism in the publication of Changes, the school of the 5 Elements, the Dao elaboration of the appropriate world, the school of opposites (yin-yang) and also the concept of emblematic number in i beg your pardon three, nine and also twelve were of details importance. Three is the variety of components in the universe. Ripe is 3 times three and also is emblematic of the ancient Chinese world because Emperor Yu established the original nine provinces of China. Twelve is ripe plus three and also the number of months in the year. Separated by the four seasons, which 4 minutes 1 time just as the directions quarter space, twelve yields three months, devolving to the root of all fundamental numbers. Hence, the central government was headed by a room of three ministers because that finance, defense, and also public works. Lower in rank were nine governmental ministers for other vital state functions.Moralism developed the ethical right of the emperor to rule and utilized the standard writings of old Chinese scholars to translate the moral universe and justify the social organization of Chinese society.

Figure 2. The right structure that the funding as conceptualized throughout the Han dynasty (from Paul Wheatley, The Pivot the the four Quarters, Aldine, 1971).

The synthetic of these four values led, in the search of metropolitan planning, to Han reinterpretation that the Zhou li, an ancient record attributed to a statesman of the early Zhou period (ca. 900 BC). This artificial Han view (Fig. 2) established an elaborate structural and organizational best which has been a major influence in the advance of every subsequent traditional cities in China The ideal capital city is a perfect square, every nine li top top a side, bisected by a main meridional axis so the it develops the ideographic character because that earth and China, and also models the structure of the planet which the Han believed to it is in square. The royal residence city is in ~ the center, surrounding by an administrative complicated and lastly the outer city, mirroring the department of the universe into three levels as well as symbolizing the moralist department of Chinese society into the emperor, scholar-administrators, and also commoners. The external city was split into four quarters along the cardinal axes. Each 4 minutes 1 was subdivided into wards with enclosing walls and also gates, and each ward was separated into 4 quarters. There to be twelve city gates, three in each of the walls, representing the twelve month of the year. This gates define a grid work-related of major thoroughfares of i beg your pardon the north/south room of main importance in defining the use of an are and motion within the city. This is in keeping with the orientation the the city to heaven"s pole, with its principle gate wherein the meridional axis bisects the south wall. An additional avenues arc distributed among the major thoroughfares to develop a network of nine north/south and also nine east/west streets. Palaces, governmental buildings, temples, ancestral halls, cemeteries, life quarters, parks and also other tasks are assigned certain spaces in ~ the city in accordance through their spiritual and political features within the structure cosmology together adduced in the Zhou li.The correspondence between architectural space, social status and social role is so close the royal and also civil titles often reflect the geometry of the city as lot as they carry out the duty of the official, e.g. Gentlemen that the left palace, major of the saturday gate, assistant secretariat supervisor of the right, bureau because that superintending guest of south and north, director of the yellow gates.Economic Organization and also the growth of Urban civilization in ChinaThe ancient Chinese ide of the city state is a rigid bureaucratic hierarchy modeled in the structure of the city and the certain needs that its rulers. Incorporation of early on Confucian moralist ideas in the Han mechanism of metropolitan planning and the judicial codes held that the wide range of any kind of community might only be enjoyed by some at the expense of others. Due to the fact that this riches was figured out by primary production, essential occupations to be encouraged and also inessential occupations suppressed. Therefore, commercial and also financial operations for private gain were naturally immoral and were tolerated to the degree they were thought about necessary to the role of the state. Yet urban world depends ~ above resources and also people who room not discovered in cities, on economic relationships in between cities and also on the commerce and financial transactions which need to transcend the hierarchical structure the the state.Figure 3. The Tang capital of Chang-an(after G.W. Skinner, The City in Later imperial China, Stanford college Press, 1977).

The Qin, Han and also their successors realized these points and adopted numerous actions to make the state a more efficient political and also economic institution. The most successful of these measures, such as the innovation of roads and canals, the structure of the great wall and the facility of a secular (non-religious, non-royal) polite service, to be designed come isolate and also reduce the functional geography of the realm so the it much more closely resembled in scale the ideal design of the ancient city state. However, these improvements additionally served to entrench that ideal, do it also more complicated to adopt radical political or economic solutions. Thus, even in Han times, after ~ commercial markets were embraced as important institutions in the city and also state, they to be still ideally relegated to the north side of the outer city, the least crucial area in the Daoist interpretation of spatial opposites. Moreover, they were rigorously regulated together state monopolies. Similarly, necessary commercial activities, such as those neighboring the trade and also use that iron and also salt, were held as federal government monopolies. Merchants were tolerated together a vital anomaly in the structure of human society and cure as 2nd class citizens, your sons prohibited indigenous achieving administrative or academic rank in ~ the polite service.The close regulation that commercial tasks can tho be checked out in the capital city that Chang-an during the Tang empire (618 come 907 AD) once it consisted of upwards that a million civilization (Fig. 3). Here, the palace and also administrative cities have been relocated to a block backing top top the north wall of the city. Gate, street and ward framework is more complex than prescribed in Han ideals, but still provides the correct alignments and integrates the proper numerological formula, preserving spatial systems in teams of 3, 9, 12, 36, and 108. Buildings with religious functions are properly placed and also the markets, though huge and conveniently located, are not permitted to intrude on traditionally sacred or political an are and space still tightly managed by the government.The very first imperial funding which totally integrated and advocated the advance of commercial tasks was Kaifeng, facility of the Liang and Northern tune dynasties. By 955 advertisement it had grown right into the largest and also most complex urban facility in the world. Below both public and also private advertising enterprises were pursued throughout the administrative and outer cities, being excluded just from the imperial city and imperial method which led, together of old, native the southern gate. As commercial cities arose in China, the principle of the city, itself, changed. This is reflect in the modern ideograph for capital, which combines the signs for "market" and also "walled city" (Fig. 4). This signifies the inclusion of commercial tasks with the walled city and the coeval standing of the commercial world of the higher city and the imperial people of the old walled city glossed through the ideograph for yi. Linguistically, these space treated as though they room separate and equal. The prestige of business is additionally reflected by the increasing numbers that cities and towns in ~ which there we not governmental centers. Through the finish of the Qing dynasty (1893 AD), 13% of regional cities, 10% of greater sub-regional cities, 16% of local cities, 34% of main market towns, 98% of intermediate industry towns and also 99.5% of small market communities existed outside the official governmental hierarchy of the empire.Figure 4. Du, the modern word because that capital, in its contemporary and archaic forms.
As the state developed in China, 3 semi-independent systems for social and economic regulate were developed. Due to the fact that the state characterized itself in religious and administrative terms, the formal apparatus for social and economic control focused on a pyramidal pecking order of corporate groups managed by religious and governmental institutions. This hierarchy began with the emperor and terminated with all the individual households making up the populace of the state. Its organizing principles, i m sorry articulated people across urban and rural spaces, required that populaces be immutably fixed and stable. Hence, the activity of individuals between the geographical spaces and social levels with this pecking order was strictly managed by law, administrative policy and custom. Administratively, these were applied by an pecking order of administrative centers linked with cities of diminish size and complexity the were organized and also staffed by the federal government of the royal capital.

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Smaller communities, and the wards and quarters the cities, to be organized and staffed locally, yet directed by the administrative elite. Religiously, every space down come the level of the individual ward was noted with a holy place which organized a wide range of social activities and assisted to identify and fix the membership of each regional residential unit. Movement in between these residential devices was carefully monitored and also controlled through the state, an organizational principle which inhibited and limited the development of a advertising class. In sharp contrast, economic organizations such as guilds developed as exclusive associations through their own codes of conduct. Contractual forms, offices, penalties and also services. Such associations fostered an atmosphere in i beg your pardon commercial activities could take place, mediated in between merchants and officials the the empire, and assured contractual relationships in the absence of a civil penal code.Note the sharp organizational distinctions were no made making use of the west urban/rural dichotomy. In the timeless Chinese allude of view, the urban/rural continuous is truly constant and urban civilization is a facility web of relationships which have to be closely fostered together one can foster a social ecology. Provided the population and size and also density of brand-new China, an excellent care need to be bring away in presenting the an innovation of industrial urban to plan or the fabric of Chinese human being could be transformed disastrously. Indeed, it can be said that together introductions have currently played vital part in the violent restructuring of Chinese civilization in the twentieth century.