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Notes on the Geography of China: Foguang Temple: Photo 29

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The powerful rear side of the building. Steinhardt writes that "Since the Cultural Revolution, to criticize Liang's writing meant to criticize the man, someone now as untouchably perfect as the image of a Tang hall created by him.... " Steinhardt then criticizes Liang for paying too much attention to this grand building and too little to more modest ones of similar age. Liang, she writes, "...explicated a hierarchical system for a society grounded in hierarchy" (p. 248). She writes, "One cannot but be puzzled by Liang Sicheng's omission of the eighth-century architecture at Horyuji [Japan] in his studies of early Chinese Buddhist architecture, for, as we are about to learn, there is no question he was aware of it." She maintains that "...political or personal agendas might be the only way to explain the avoidance of Japanese architecture in the writing of a superbly educated and meticulous scholar such as Liang." Liang, she concludes, wrote "China's architectural history as a history of beautiful, high-status monuments that, no matter who had cut and put together the wood, had been patronized by the wealthy, educated elite" (p. 247). Liang, in short, came from an elitist background, was personally crushed in the Cultural Revolution, but maintained his old loyalties. Whether this was a failing remains an open question.

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