Susan Bradley, blog author
Susan Bradley
The wood doors of China

The heavy, brass laden door in the warm, royal Chinese red replete with hardware in the shape of a dragon's face, opened mouth. Exterior and interior doors adorned with chūn lián or lucky word sign hung each Lunar New Year. Ornate metal gates securing interior doors on homes and business. The doors of China are as alluring and charming as those found in France or Greece.

I arrived in China to teach English a few years ago. The more time I spent here the more I began to enjoy the architecture all around me (ancient, old, and contemporary), all of a sudden, I became immediately aware of and attracted to the doors. These vary by the buildings they are hung from, both functionally and decoratively. Some are fantastically traditional with a definite Asian look and feel, others are more ornate, with the feel of another world maybe with a European influence, and others are merely functional, yet with a certain beauty all their own.

The doors of the temples are most ornate and strong and solid. They are host to ornate hardware from hinges to handles. They seem to open to doors, upon doors, upon doors entering what feels at first into the temple, only to be taken by path to another door that opens to a peaceful courtyard, then again to a quiet chamber, then again to a long once used meeting room, and perhaps finally to the temple where a statue of the deity is adorned with flowers and incense is burning.

Doors of homes from the village home to the multifloor villa, are a sign of welcome, well-worn and humble, or shiny and opulent. These set the tone as to what is on the other side which is wholly left to one's imagination. One could find a courtyard surrounded by a couple of buildings - a kitchen shack with wood burning oven and stone tables, maybe a building with a stone sink in front where clothes are washed and hung to dry, and then the family sleeping quarters that may also include a sort of living room area and a place for the family to share a meal.

My personal favorites are the ancient and older doors, and those opening to a humble dwelling that showcases the life happening beyond the doors; the lives being lived daily, perhaps having held multiple generations of family. Awe, if only the doors and entryways could talk, surely the stories they would tell us.

The wood doors of China

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