Temple (building) I INTRODUCTION Wat Phra Kaeo Thailand has nearly 18,000 Buddhist temples, called wats, throughout the country. The temples provide religious sanctuaries for Thailand's Buddhists, who account for 95 percent of the population. The Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), pictured here, stands in Bangkok and dates to 1782. Thailand Tourist Authority Temple (building), building, usually of large size, dedicated to one or more divinities. The word temple is derived from templum, the Latin word for a sacred, ceremonial space. A temple almost always stands out clearly from its surroundings and has a pronounced architectural character. The type is common to most societies, being thought of as the dwelling place of the divine. The broad concept includes the mosque, the synagogue, and the church, and the word is also used to refer to buildings for fraternal orders and religious organizations. The origin of the temple is found in the need for ancient peoples to make concrete their relationship to the forces of nature by means of substantial structures commanding attention. Around these the ceremonies of worship were elaborated, and in many societies the attendant priests became very powerful. Temples were often positioned with regard to some natural feature or phenomenon, such as a holy mountain or the apparent traverse of the sun, and they were often tall or placed on an elevated spot, in order to lessen the distance between mortals and the heavens. II TEMPLE FORMS In form the temple ranges from a plain mound of heaped-up material to sophisticated complexes of numerous buildings, but a main, central structure for the temple proper is always found in these elaborate systems. Some have platforms for observing natural phenomena or for ritual fires, but most have a sanctuary, a special place reserved for the divinity, whose invisible presence is symbolized by a sculpted or painted image or some suitable relic. In order to show respect for the divinity, the sanctuary is usually set off from the rest of the temple by interposed doors, railings, or colonnades; the sanctuary is usually well inside the temple structure. Another common feature is an altar, a block of stone or tablelike feature where offerings to the divinity are placed and upon which the ceremony of worship focuses. The altars of the classical temples of Greece and Rome were outside and in front of the temple proper; the internal sanctuary (cella) was not normally entered by the laity. Temples usually are set within a precinct (also sacred), an enclosure extending well beyond the temple proper. Gateways, often of elaborate design, helped to control crowds of worshipers and pilgrims. Grand temple complexes might include priests' quarters, healing centers, monasteries, shops, and hostels. Often granaries were included as well, for the connection between religious cults and agriculture was close; priests became bankers through the loan of seed grain. In many societies the main temple and dependent structures were the most important buildings, although many smaller, often isolated, temples existed as well. In general, temples have two types of form: the solid, hill-like type--pyramid, stepped mound, circular shape--and the chambered type--with an interior sanctuary and exterior colonnades or other sophisticated architectural treatment. One is a monument reaching toward the sky, heavy with celestial symbolism; the other is a dignified house for a god. Both types are usually eminently visible, an unambiguous statement about the religious culture of the builders. III EGYPTIAN AND MESOPOTAMIAN TEMPLES Temple of Hatshepsut The temple of Hatshepsut is a rock-cut tomb and mortuary temple built in the 15th century bc at Dayr al Ba? r? near Thebes. It was designed by the royal architect Senemut for the female pharaoh Hatshepsut. The temple consists of three colonnaded terraces connected by ramps. The surrounding area was planted with trees and flowers during Hatshepsut's reign and for many years after. Gian Berto Vanni/Art Resource, NY In ancient Egypt, temples were grandiose, built of huge blocks and columns of stone. Often they were enlarged by successive rulers to form strung-out series of temple parts, as in the gigantic Temple of Amon (circa 1550-1070 BC) at Al Karnak. The Nile cliffs were used as settings for temples, such as the massive mortuary temple (15th century BC) of Hatshepsut at Dayr al Ba?r ?, the superhuman scale of which still inspires awe. A profusion of sculpture (both in the round and in incised relief) and painting told of the gods and their special connection with Egypt's rulers. In the Middle East the hill form called the ziggurat predominated for a long time; this was a huge stylized constructed mound, sometimes encircled by a walkway. The best preserved is the ziggurat of Nanna at Ur (about 2100 plainer constructed mounds also appeared. In the last few centuries IV BC BC) in present-day Iraq. Smaller, columned temples with cellas appeared. GREEK TEMPLES Temple of Apollo at Didyma The Greeks built the Temple of Apollo at Didyma, Turkey (about 300 bc). The design of the temple was known as dipteral, a term that refers to the two sets of columns surrounding the interior section. These columns surrounded a small chamber that housed the statue of Apollo. With Ionic columns reaching 19.5 m (64 ft) high, these ruins suggest the former grandeur of the ancient temple. Bernard Cox/Bridgeman Art Library, London/New York Beginning about the 7th century BC, the Greeks created the temple with columns around all sides that support a plain, pitched roof--the image that comes most readily to the Western mind when the word temple is mentioned. This form, perfected in the Parthenon (circa 447-432 BC) on the Athenian Acropolis, has had a long life in the history of art. Often atop a city hill (acropolis) and built of fine-grained marble, the Greek temple is justly famous for its fine proportions and elegant clarity of form. It sits on a three-stepped stone platform upon which the columns and the walls of the cella are set; the gable ends of the roof, and other parts, were embellished with sculpture. As time passed, the kinds of columns (see Column) used by the Greeks--Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian--became the touchstones of classically inspired buildings everywhere. V ROMAN TEMPLES The Roman temple (4th century BC-3rd century AD) at first seems to be almost entirely derived from the Greek. Unlike the Greek examples, however, it is emphatically emphasized on one end with a high staircase set between two projecting wall sections that form part of the high platform, or podium, on which it is built. Every Roman town had one or more temples of this kind, placed not upon an acropolis but amid the urban fabric; its elevation on its podium helped give it distinction. The number of public buildings, both secular and religious, that descend from the centered, one-ended Roman temple, with its lofty porch, is beyond count. A well-preserved example, the famous Maison-Carrée (four-square house), in Nîmes in southern France, has been a major architectural source; for example, Thomas Jefferson's design for the State Capitol at Richmond, Virginia, was based on it. The forms of Greek and Roman temples are among the most influential of all Western architectural creations, not only because of their historical associations but also because of their solid symmetry and stable composition. They have stood, for centuries in the West, as architectural metaphors of civilization itself. VI INDIAN TEMPLES Model of Borobudur Temple, Java A model of Borobudur, a Hindu-Buddhist temple on the island of Java in Indonesia, reveals in this aerial view the eight stone terraces built in steps, one on top of the other. Constructed in the 9th century and abandoned in the 11th century, Borobudur influenced the design of many other temples. Charles and Josette Lenars/Corbis The major Buddhist temple structures of India are the stupa, a hemispherical mound, sometimes of great size) and the cave-hall, or chaitya. Stupas are reliquaries and represent the heavens. Rising from bases that symbolize the earth, they are the goals of pilgrims and are often set in groups within precincts. The Great Stupa (3rd century BC-early 1st century AD) at Sanchi is the most notable extant example. Encircling the base of the stupa is a fenced-off walkway for the ritual passage around it. The hemisphere proper is solid and is surmounted by a fenced enclosure symbolizing the peak of Mount Meru, the world-mountain. Within is often a schematized tree of stone representing humanity. The cave-hall, on the other hand, is emphatically an interior space, usually cut out of the rock, as is the Great Chaitya Hall (circa early 2nd century AD) at Karle. It has a stupa at its far end separated from the curving back wall by an ambulatory. Both the stupa and the chaitya are usually decorated with a profusion of high-relief sculpture. Great Stupa The Great Stupa is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Sanch?, a historic site in the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India. Constructed between the 3rd century bc and the early 1st century ad, the temple is solid and enclosed by a stone outer fence with toranas, or gateways, on all four sides. Worshipers at the site pay their respects to Buddha by circling the dome, which represents the world mountain. Atop the dome, a square fence called the harika represents the heaven. The harika surrounds the yasti, a spire with three chatras, or disk shapes. The yasti represents the axis of the universe. Scala/Art Resource, NY Freestanding Hindu temples are large, rectangular, symmetrical precincts containing a towering sanctuary and various subordinate structures. Typical is the Lingaraja Temple (circa AD 1000) at Bhubaneshwar. The sanctuary, placed at the intersection of the cardinal axes of the precinct, is very tall, resembling an immense fountain of stone with a domelike, small-scale top bearing a finial. The nearby structures echo this great form. This style is common to the north of India; in the south a main feature is the towering, intricately formed gateway or gopura. All Hindu temples are highly articulated and are charged with symbolic carvings. The sanctuary proper is a kind of cave, dark and vaulted over by cantilevered stones. Jain temples (see Jainism), such as the marble temples at Mount ?bu (13th century) in western India, are placed in rectangular precincts lined on the inside with repeated cells. On the long axis are a dancing pavilion, a large gateway, a square vestibule, and then the shrine proper. Buddhist architecture appears also in other Asian countries. In Indonesia, for example, near Magelang on the island of Java, the Borobudur temple was built in the 9th century in the style of the Gupta architecture of India. The temple-mountain design symbolizes the structure of the universe. The central stupa is on a massive stepped base and is surrounded by scores of lesser stupas, the whole representative of Buddhist beliefs. Borobudur architecture influenced the famous Khmer temples, or wats, of Cambodia such as Angkor Wat (early 12th century), which has three vast rectangular terraces, each edged with passages, one higher than the other. The outermost, largest terrace wall is marked by low towers, the second by higher ones, and the innermost by still taller ones centered around the tallest of all--an awesome composition. The whole is covered with miles of religious relief sculpture. VII CHINESE AND JAPANESE TEMPLES By ? d? in Temple The Amida (Buddhist) By? d ?in temple, located in Uji, near Ky?to, features the Ho-o-do (Phoenix Hall), which contains a large gilded wooden figure of the Amida Buddha created by the sculptor Jocho. The Ho-o-do was originally an aristocrat's country home but was converted into a monastery in 1053 when the rest of the temple was built. Orion Press/Art Resource, NY Chinese architecture is predominantly secular, with halls or monuments for ceremonies as much social as religious. When Buddhism arrived in China, it was the long, relatively low great hall of Chinese tradition that was first adapted to temple use. Later, more vertical structures were built to house the statue of the Buddha. Wood was the normal building material, assembled in an intricate system of posts carrying multiple horizontal brackets; the subtle manipulation of this technique produced the graceful roof shapes of traditional Chinese and Japanese architecture. Centralized buildings were constructed as well: The pagoda, often made of brick, is a tower of superimposed stories. The stories may diminish somewhat in breadth as the building rises, and each stage is normally accentuated by bold roof silhouettes that project beyond the mass. Circular buildings were not unknown; one of these, the Altar of Heaven (begun 1420; restored 1890) in Beijing, has a roof form that resembles a great conical hat. In Chinese wooden architecture extensive use is made of bright colors. Japanese religious buildings, which descend from the Chinese tradition, are often well preserved because of frequent, meticulous rebuilding of the original (impermanent) wood. Therefore, at Ise one can see a sanctuary that, although a modern work, faithfully represents the original building of the 3rd century AD. In Japan the relatively low, great-hall type of building is found; the pagoda form is also found in Japan. The ingenuity of the carpentry and of the woodcarving in some buildings is exceptional, and much attention was paid to the texture and to the patterning of roofs of thatch, shingles, and tile. The temple interiors can be brilliant, but on the whole the effect is one of an economical clarity of forms. VIII PRE-COLUMBIAN TEMPLES Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacán The Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán, Mexico, was built between the 1st and 2nd centuries ad. The structure is made of layers of clay faced with stone, and it stands more than 61 m (200 ft) high. Flights of stairs lead to the top, where a temple to the sun god Uitzilopochtli originally stood. The site is aligned with the rising and setting of the sun on the summer solstice. Sapieha/Art Resource, NY In what is now Mexico and the countries immediately to the south, religious architecture predominated among monumental structures until the Europeans arrived. The Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon at Teotihuacán (a city that flourished from shortly before the beginning of the Christian era to about AD 650) show the development of this typical Mesoamerican form. The Temple of the Sun is a kind of step pyramid, composed of horizontal layers or slices of pyramids of diminishing size; a small dwelling for the god was once at the top. The later Temple of the Moon is more fully articulated than that of the Sun, carrying a series of richly sculptured bands around its base; both pyramids could be ascended by monumental staircases. Maya temples also used the pyramidal form, although usually as a base for a rectilinear structure above. At Chichén Itzá, the Temple of the Warriors was fronted by a sizable colonnaded hall. All such structures were of stone or of earth fill faced with stone; some were encased in painted plaster in lieu of cut-stone sculpture. Pyramid temples were often oriented to the passage of the sun; the Teotihuacán Temple of the Sun was oriented to the sun's passage at the summer solstice. American Art and Architecture; Chinese Art and Architecture; Egyptian Art and Architecture; Greek Art and Architecture; Indian Art and Architecture; Japanese Art and Architecture; Mesopotamian Art and Architecture; Pre-Columbian Art and Architecture; Roman Art and Architecture. Contributed By: William L. MacDonald Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.