Hokuendou 北円堂
KEY WORD : architecture / buildings & structures
The largest extant octagonal Buddhist temple hall, dated 1210. It is located at Koufukuji 興福寺, in Nara, and is placed on a stone podium with access on four sides by a flight of eight stone steps about the width of one bay *ken 間, or 4.85m. Heavy, double plank doors studded with metal bosses face the steps. Above the doors are long narrow openings filled with slender, delicately wrought laths. Double, vertically-latticed windows *renjimado 連子窓, fill the remaining four bays. The laths are remarkably slender, unlike the heavy laths used in the Nara period. The bracket complexes at each corner are three-stepped *mitesaki tokyou 三手先斗きょう, between the corners are three-on-one, non-projecting bracket complexes *hiramitsuto 平三斗, with bearing block capped struts *kentozuka 間斗束, on each side. The arrangement of the rafters is unique because as seen from beneath the eaves, the rafters have three layers *minoki 三軒. The base rafters *jidaruki 地垂木, extend outward as usual, but then, not one but two sets of flying rafters *hien daruki 飛檐垂木, advance forward creating deep eaves. The eight-sectioned roof hatchuu yane 八注屋根 (see *hatchuu-zukuri 八注造), is covered with tile roofing *hongawarabuki 本瓦葺, and has an elaborate tear-drop shaped form *houju 宝珠, at the peak. The roof of the Hokuendou, as well as those of the other eight sided halls known as *Saiendou 西円堂 and *Yumedono 夢殿, both at Houryuuji 法隆寺, retained their shapes during remodeling in the 13c. There is no sag in these roofs due to the use of perfectly straight hidden rafters *nodaruki 野垂木. The ogre faced tiles *onigawara 鬼瓦, are the original tiles. In spite of the massive roof, the body of the building does not appear weak because of the double row of stacked bracket complexes in the interstices *nakazonae 中備, which work together with the corner brackets to create an excellent balance. The interior of the Hokuendou has an octagonal sanctuary *naijin 内陣, marked by eight heavy pillars that support large, horizontal plates above which extend small plastered walls *kokabe 小壁, constructed within each of the eight bays. These plastered areas are divided by horizontal purlins *keta 桁. Bracket complexes extend out at each corner and bearing-block capped struts are centered within the lower space between the corners. Above each of them, one additional bearing block is placed on the upper surface of the purlins. Colorful paintings of flourishing, scroll-like motifs of abstracted natural forms oigata 笈形, decorate each side of the bearing- block capped struts. An elaborate canopy *tengai 天蓋, is suspended above the octagonal altar below a smooth board ceiling *kagamitenjou 鏡天井



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