Later Zhao Carriage Design
The carriage’s dimensions of approximately 20’ x 10’ were taken from historical accounts of the actual procession. So were the number of monks and dragons incorporated into the design. Based on the functional requirements of the robotic complexities described, the overall load, the rough road beds, and the distance travelled, the carriage had to be robust.
The carriage had to have a strong chassis frame. The heavy timber frame illustrated serves to support its super structure and primary drive shafts as well provide for integral hitching points at the front needed to pull the carriage.
The 3’-6” diameter of the wheels was determined based on a number of factors including:
Ease of movement on rough roads.
Ease of movement relative to driving gear systems.
Advantageous position of drive axle relative to other drive systems, the water pump and bottom cistern.
Optimal viewing height for robotic display.
Because of the need to continuously recirculate water that spouts from the dragons, the carriage has a solid back from the base to the roof. The sides and front are left open with the exception of two front columns that help support the roof, dragons and water cistern.
The height of the carriage roof is determined by the water pump system, upper cistern, and optimal visibility of dragons for spectators.
A stretched, curved and waterproofed fabric is a light weight, traditional, functional and aesthetically pleasing solution to sheltering the carriage. The roof also conceals the upper water cistern.
The rotating monks are set on a 9’ outer diameter disc set flush with the main display platform. This dimension and resulting length of circumambulation are determined by the reported width of the carriage. The interior diameter of the disc offers ample space for the Buddha and the monk rubbing the former’s chest. The Buddha and attending monk are set about a foot above the platform level on a lotus flower base rising from a pool of water recharged by the dragon fountain.
By Peter Martin
Last edited on March 20, 2012