Essay on Religion's Reflection in Architecture

825 Words Nov 18th, 2006 4 Pages
How have architectural styles reflected the philosophies, religions, and politics of various cultures throughout history?

I would like to focus my discussion on religion's reflection in architecture and hope it will not be too lengthy.

Religion forms the foundation of cultural identity and has decisively shaped world civilizations based on differing, but not exclusive, views of ultimate value: mercy and benevolence in Buddhism, morality and ethics in Confucianism, respect in Shintoism, devotion and mystical unity of divine Self in Hinduism, obedience and perseverance in Judaism, love for the Creator and one's fellowman in Christianity, and submission to the will of Allah in Islam.

Shrine-like buildings found at Catal Huyuk in
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Some were temporary buildings, used only once, during a god's sojourn. Shinto shrines adorn the landscape rather than host believers, and they reflect the worship of spirits of the environment who determine the success of the harvest.

In ancient China, shrines were used for sacrifices to ancestors and famous historical personages, as well as to the gods. Usually there were two groups of buildings, one for the worship of heaven and the other for prayers for good harvest. The Imperial Vault of Heaven housed a sacred tablet. This shrine had three circular tiers. Heaven was said to be circular and the earth square. Thus, square courtyards were used to locate heaven on earth, while high supporting platforms, placed behind comparatively low surrounding walls, gave the impression that the buildings were close to the sky.

In the Roman world, the acceptance of Christianity by Emperor Constantine resulted in an ambitious program of ecclesiastical and monastic building. As Christianity spread across Europe, medieval Christendom witnessed the construction of enormous cathedrals, often taking generations to complete, which infused Christian belief in the majesty of the Creator within vast arched spaces, and reverence for the saints within intricate statuary and stained glass. In architecture as in literature, the dominant themes were feudal loyalty and Christian faith, both closely related to the mystic ideal of the

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