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Architecture With Power and Authority, Essay Example

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Essay

Many cultures use architecture to express or reinforce power and authority. Choose two works of architecture from two different cultures, identifying each work as fully as possible. At least one work must come from beyond the European tradition. Discuss how each work conveys power and authority. 

Power and authority can be illustrated through architecture.  Different pieces within a culture demonstrate the power of the individual or individuals responsible for the construction and/or design of the architecture.(Barnes, 2011)This paper discusses two different architectural pieces from two different cultures that exhibit power and authority, such as from the Roman Culture and Japanese empire.

The Arch of Titus was erected by the Emperor Titus’s brother and successor, Domitian.  The piece is a small concrete and marble arch, with one passageway covered by a barrel vault.  Originally the arch’s purpose was to serve as a base for a giant statue of a horse chariot.  The piece was therefore built to look strong and powerful, in order to hold a heavy statue.  In addition, there is an inscription that has been restored on the attic of the arch that indicates that the Senate and Roman people designed and constructed the arch.  Within the architecture, there are various representations mimicking victory in the corners of the arch.  Furthermore, in the two relief panels of the arch there are scenes of triumph.  The emperor Titus was known for honoring the opening ceremonies at the Colosseum in Rome, as well as being victorious in the Jewish War.  Therefore, we can connect this architectural piece with the power and authority that Titus possessed during that time.  (Unit TWO: Roman Art during the Early Empire)

One the right of the arch, the relief illustrates the emperor Titus in his chariot lead by a goddess, with Victory crowning his head with a wreath.  The second relief illustrates soldiers in a parade, carrying the menorah and objects from the Temple in Jerusalem, showing their victory during the war.  The soldiers in this piece are an important part of the power and authority shown in the architecture.  The soldiers were the backbone to the Roman Empire and were both feared and admired by the people due to their fierce discipline and devotion.   The purpose of this piece was to display the power and authority of the leaders of Rome and this was conducted through the masterful design in the architecture.

Himeji Castle is an example of an architectural design that has both the unique identification of power and authority.  The castle is the largest and most preserved castle in Japan.  In fact, the set of the outer fortifications are the most remarkable of all tenshu, which is a word that describes castle in Japanese.  The castle was built after the Tokugawa victory in the Battle of Sekigahara during the 1600s.  The castle and its architecture are associated with the political and military events during that time, as well as into the 17th century.  The castle was also built on the border of the regions of the Tokugawa domination in Japan.  The size of the castle itself shows its power and authority.  The inner citadel of the castle was about 91 mms in length on each of its four sides with the outer perimeter of the fortifications at nearly 6 km long, and an enclosed area of 1,850 m x 1420 m.  The total square meters of the castle is 200,000 square meters.   (Coaldrake, 1996)

In addition to the large space and height of the castle, the castle was designed with many different gateways and gatehouses indicating the defense of the castle.  The different types of design for the gateways and gatehouse, illustrates the need for a sudden attack and a need for a different approach for defense purposes.  Therefore, it can further be suggested that the power figures resided in this castle and great protective measures were built for defense purposes.

The view and beauty of the castle also illustrates the power and authority in the architecture.  There are many different towers with different roofs embodied with grey tiles and white plaster, creating a decorative illusion.  In addition, from the roof edges there are projecting apertures at the corners.  The main purpose of the apertures was to allow defenders to drop rocks from the building against intruders; however, the design allows for beauty and protection showing the power and authority during that time.  (Coaldrake, 1996)

References

Barnes, A.  (2011).  The Fusion of Spectacles and Domestic Space in Late-Antique Roman Architecture. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science. 1(16):72-78.

Coaldrake, W. (1996).  Architecture and Authority in Japan.  Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies.  Rouledge. 40pp.

Unit TWO: Roman Art during the Early Empire.  Retrieved on 10/7/2013 from: http://cfbportal.schoolwires.net/cms/lib04/TX01001392/Centricity/Domain/2567/Greek%20and%20Roman/Unit%20Two%20Part%20Six%20SG.pdf

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