Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Forbidden City

On our first day in China our flight to Sanmenxia (the city where we worked at the orphanage) was cancelled and rebooked to later in the day so we had some time to go into Beijing center.

We walked through a beautiful park and then into Tian’anmen Square of which the Forbidden city is a part.


The Forbidden City is the former palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties (the Qing was the last dynasty in China). The emperor who had it built had a Buddhist advisor who had a dream that the emperor should build a palace in a northern capital. The Chinese characters for Beijing, 北京, mean “Northern Capital”. In the times of the dynasties the people paid taxes to the emperors and would have never been allowed into a palace. For this reason the Forbidden City is a symbolism of the benefits of Communism because it is now the people’s palace rather than being excluded from it (per the movie “China and the Forbidden City” made in the 70’s).




The sculpted ramp in the middle of the picture is a dragon sculpture. It was believed that the emperor was descended from the dragon and that the emperor had direct communication with deity. No one was allowed to step on this sculpture and the emperor was carried over it by people walking on the steps on either side. Even now the area is gated off but perhaps more for preservation than the area being sacred.


The yellow roofs are the emperor’s colors and the design of the roof line was repeated in the the other imperial palaces. The two pictures below show detail of the roof. There were always dragons on the corner of the roofs.




Detail of dragons on Forbidden City gates



This is the footpath in the gardens of the palace. I saw intricate “mosaics” like these all over the other palaces that I visited as well.

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