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Knud Larsen. Some Remarks on Central Tibetan Architecture

Central Tibetan architecture can be seen as deeply symbolic in its overall character. Classical Buddhist texts set out rules for exterior and interior layouts, define proportions, and even dictate the number of columns to be used in interior spaces. Despite such strict guidelines, Tibetan architecture is firmly based on common sense, joining practical needs with the often limited availability of building materials and resources. This essay offers introductory remarks on the most striking features exhibited by Tibetan buildings. These features include: the layout followed by most monasteries and manor houses; the general construction techniques, which result in a ‘forest of pillars’; the contrast between the austere, fort-like exteriors and the warm, richly decorated interiors; the small windows with black frames; and the intense colours of the interior woodwork.

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