Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Forbidden City - Beijing

The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City is also know as the Palace Museum
or the Purple Forbidden City. 
In ancient times, the emperor was said to be a son of Heaven, and therefore
Heaven's supreme power was bestowed upon him. 
The emperors' residence (the forbidden city) on earth was built as a replica of the Purple Palace
where God was thought to live in Heaven.
 During the time of the Ming and Qing dynasties entrance to the "city"
was gained only by the emperor and those he chose - thus it was "forbidden"
 to almost all of the Chinese people.

This is a map of the original city built in 1420 and used by the Ming and Qing Dynasties. 
The bottom half of the map with the large gate at the bottom and the four
large courtyards above - is now Tian'an men Square. 
You will notice that all of the city is surrounded by a moat.
 The moat is 20 feet deep and more than 50 feet wide. 
The hill that is in shadow at the top of the map was created
 from the dirt removed to build the moat. 

 Little "rivers" cross the city between the moat on each side.
The halls where the Emperors conducted business are all elevated.

A close-up of the details in painting and carving of the buildings

 A close-up of the roof.  Each roof has these little creatures. 
Supposedly the more creatures on the roof, the higher the status of the people living in the home.

An example of the carved staircases.  Notice that even the steps had intricate carvings.

Yellow was the color used to symbolize the royal family. 
All of the roofs in the Forbidden city are yellow and you will see it used in all of the paintings on the buildings

Close-up of one of the thrones that were used by the emperors.

A Brass Lion

  The entrance to the garden. 
There are gardens on both sides of the main courtyards that run down the center of the city. 
 We were only allowed to see this one. 

I would love to go back in time and see what the forbidden city looked like during the Ming dynasty. 
 It is still beautiful, but it must have been absolutely stunning.

Dui Xiu Shan. 
(More impressive in person than photo).
The Chinese believe in Feng Shui - creating balance in all things. 
In their gardens there is always running water and an artificial "mountain"
so that the energy can flow freely through the garden.

This is the pagoda on top of the artificial hill that was created from digging the moat. 
 It is about 50-60 feet high.


The moat

The city was completely surrounded by the moat and a wall 10 meters tall.  The wall was 10 meters wide at the bottom,
tapering off to 6 meters wide at the top.  So IF you could make it across the moat,
 the slope and height of the wall made it impossible to climb.

The north entrance to the city (near the pagoda on the "hill")
The doors at the bottom are entrances to the next large courtyard.
 There were originally 10 courtyards through the center of the city. 
The doors to each courtyard are about a foot thick and sit on top of a threshold. 
The thresholds vary in height throughout China to symbolize status -
 with the emperor's being the tallest.
 The Chinese are very superstitious.
 They believed that ghosts roamed the streets, but the ghosts could not jump or step over things.
 Therefore the high thresholds would keep the ghosts from getting into their houses. 

Close-up of the roof details
(the posts above the door represent the families status - the more posts the higher the status.)
An example of the painting and detail on every building

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