Perspective in Oriental art
The convention of vertical placement lends itself to the illusion of distance in Oriental art. That is, the higher an object is placed in the composition, the farther away it is percieved from the viewer in space. Some times you almost have to accept this on faith. That is, by knowing the convention (vertical placement equals distance) you can understand the composition otherwise it might appear that people are riding on each others shoulders. This is more prevalent in older art, but is still seen today.
One interesting fact about depth and perspective in this photo (and much of older Oriental art, is the reversal of vanishing points or no vanishing point at all. Look at the gazebo where the 3 figures are. You can sense something isn't quite right in the rendering. That's because the back of the gazebo is understood to be farther away - and so by western convention (and in nature) ought to be smaller.
If you measure the front pillars of the gazebo and compare them to the back ones you'll see the ones in back are the same size or just a "hair" smaller - when they should be 3 or 4 "hairs" smaller. They need to be smaller for the perspective to look correct to your eye. This is true of any of the rectangular or cubic parts of the picture. ("Cubic" as in "cube" as in three dimensions.)
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