The physical remains are a handful of pagodas, dozens of cave-temples, thousands of tombs, small-scale evidence of architecture such as sarcophagi, and countless representations of buildings in paint and relief sculpture. Together they narrate an expansive architectural history that offers the first in-depth study of the development, century-by-century, of Chinese architecture of the third through sixth centuries, plus a view of important buildings from the two hundred years before the third century and the resolution of architecture of this period in later construction. The subtext of this history is an examination of Chinese architecture that answers fundamental questions such as, What was achieved by a building system of standardized components? Why has this building tradition of perishable materials endured so long in China? Why did it have so much appeal to non-Chinese empire builders? Does contemporary architecture of Korea and Japan enhance our understanding of Chinese construction? How much of a role did Buddhism play in construction during the period under study? In answering these questions, the book focuses on the relation between cities and monuments and their heroic or powerful patrons, among them Cao Cao, Shi Hu, Empress Dowager Hu, Gao Huan, and lesser-known individuals. Specific and uniquely Chinese aspects of architecture are explained. The relevance of sweeping—and sometimes uncomfortable—concepts relevant to the Chinese architectural tradition such as colonialism, diffusionism, and the role of historical memory also resonate through the book.