In search of cultural identity: Roof decorations on vernacular architecture in Hong Kong

So Mui MA

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper addresses the issue of cultural identity of Hong Kong, through studying the characteristics of roof decorations and making comparison with those from neighbouring regions. Three major types of roof decorations are identified. It is discovered that their formal qualities are related to their functions. Influence by traditions from Mainland China is apparent but slight modification is recognized. Most of the historical buildings have some unity in style. They were built before Hong Kong became a British Colony. Those built under the period of British Government have developed some individual qualities according to the interest and philosophies of the institution. Approaches, such as transformation or replacement of existing images, adjustment of order of hierarchy and retrieval of high ancient culture, have been adopted rather than being one of mere assimilation. Integration of the Chinese and Western culture could be found in some buildings that were built in the early colonial years.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2001


Hong Kong
Cultural Identity
Vernacular Architecture
Mainland China
British Colonies
Chinese Culture
Ancient Cultures
Western Culture
British Government
Historical Buildings


Ma, S. M. (2001, January). In search of cultural identity: Roof decorations on vernacular architecture in Hong Kong. Paper presented at the 2001 Pacific Neighborhood Consortium Annual Conference and Joint Meetings, Hong Kong, China.