[北京] Beijing – Forbidden City Part 2
Steemit, I am back with a follow up entry to my visit to the Forbidden City in Beijing. After reflecting on how much history I saw in a short space of time, this posts summarises a few other areas I explored during my tour there.
Buildings, Rankings and Colours
We had a look at some of the renovations across the site and I think it’s worth mentioning that the smaller details that assist flood prevention without dramatically altering the original landscape are nothing short of genius.
Moving forward through various palaces, it is worth noting that every building has a respective ranking. This is indicated by the use of ‘Imperial Decorations’ that are placed on the roofing of the buildings. Various Chinese ‘beasts’ can be seen on the roof corners, aligned with each other in a single direction. Only official/imperial buildings were permitted to don these decorations and are derived from Chinese mythology. We were informed that the number of animals present signified the ranking of the building. An increase in animals signified greater importance and ranking.
Progressing further around the Forbidden City, the crowd was especially heavy towards this site – The Hall of Preserving Harmony. This is a magnificent site and the golden throne room illuminated as the sun crept through the open doorways. ‘Baohe Dian’ was built during the 18th year of the Yongle Emperor’s rule. The hall is of grand stature and occupies over a thousand square feet. This was often used by the Ming Dynasty emperors to change their clothing before grand ceremonies. The Qing dynasty observed a slight variation by holding banquets here and a number of other auspicious events made use of this area, even weddings.
Within the hall, a great throne room can be seen inside. The gold and red here is majestic and I was immediately captured by this site on encounter. Perhaps not obvious in the photo above, the throne has various mythical creatures and imperial decorations surrounding it. The construction of this building implemented a method of ‘removing columns’ which saw the removal of columns located in the front of the hall. I wish I had spent more time to analyse this!
Garden and Peace
Moving away from the city, the Imperial Garden can be found behind the Palace of Tranquillity (I think it was called that). This garden is pretty big but the towering ancient trees provided shade. A sense of Zen can be experienced here and once again I found myself looking to every ornament, structure and information board to decipher the symbolic meaning of the area.
Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a decent photo of this, but the intertwining trees are grown in front of the Hall of Imperial Peace and represent harmony between the emperor and empress. A symbol of love and balance, it finally clicked when I looked up at the towering trees merging into a towering symbiotic tower.
The Cypress trees forming this unison are tall and strong. I saw many couples taking couples around the Lianli Tree. There is a beautiful backstory surrounding the symbolic history of these trees and I understand why many couples snap this spot together. There was also an incense burner that would be used to fill the palace rounds with scented (I think) smoke.
Stepping out into the courtyard I was greeted by a rather built dragon in stature. The symbol of fierce strength was clear.
Within the Imperial Garden, one can find the Mountain of Accumulated elegance (Duixiu Shan). This is a Hill that sits tall above the surroundings trees. The man made terrain pertains a steep climbing path to the top but I was really intrigued by the front of this hill. The constructed rocky façade was a huge contrast against the tranquil garden. The rockery reminds u that within every beauty there lies imperfection. Various rituals were held here (climbing of the mountain) to ward off and escape misfortune.
There is also a water fountain here that spouts water from a creature!
The Palace of Gathered Elegance is as the name implies… the residence of Emperor’s wives. This area is especially famous due to Empress Cixi. As testament of her might and ambition, Dragons were also placed in this area. I saw a Deer sculpture here too. This area represents some of the most interesting histories of the Forbidden City and it is well worth getting a guide to talk you through the sequence of events and symbols.
It’s also worth visiting around the Palace of Eternal Longevity (Yongshou Gong). This was used as residence by a number of empress’.
As with anything historic and ancient, restoration and preservation are of importance. I came across this gentleman who was restoring the column here with hand mixed and applied paint! The patience and diligence to restore using this craftsmanship was a sight to behold in itself and we should thank and applaud those who maintain our historical sites. I wonder how magnificent some of these sites would have looked when first erected.
We explored much of the Forbidden City and decide to head off to Jingshan Park for the sunset! I’ll have to write about this another time. Some of the History I mention above may be a little inaccurate as I a lot was noted down from our guide and word of mouth. I hope you guys feel inspired to visit and understand more of our World and post it here too : )
Thanks for Reading.