In this paper, I analyze several early-twentieth-century attempts to reprint, edit, and annotate a Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) construction manual, the Yingzao fashi (1103), each one revealing an aspect of the project to define Chinese architecture. As manifested in the research on the Yingzao fashi by a number of Chinese scholars and architects, the project to reconstitute and understand the text was closely connected to broader intellectual issues in early-twentieth-century China: nationalism, philological scholarship, and modern historiography. The Yingzao fashi was rediscovered in 1919 by politician and scholar Zhu Qiqian, who saw it as an important text that provided crucial knowledge of the tradition of Chinese architecture. It also became a central document in the construction of a modern Chinese architectural history by Liang Sicheng, Lin Huiyin, and Liu Dunzhen, which was founded on a historiography strongly influenced by the European Enlightenment tradition. Interest in the Yingzao fashi declined in the latter half of the twentieth century due to a Communist cultural policy germinated at Yan'an in the 1940s. The reappearance of the Yingzao fashi in the early twentieth century played a much broader intellectual role than the book originally had as a manual of construction and administration.

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