Beijing
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Hundred Umbrellas in Forbidden City (Ni Hao Beijing, part 3)

Ni hao Beijing!!

On day two, I and family planned to go to Forbidden City. Yup this is the place where Ming and Qing dynasty lived. This palace complex was built in 1406 after Yuan Dynasty collapsed and built around 15 years. Ming Dynasty as the successor made Beijing as secondary capital of the Ming empire.

Forbidden City or in local language is Zijin Cheng derives from the word Zi (Northen star, believed as the place where heaven emperor lies), Jin (forbidden, meaning that no body is allowed to get inside or outside of the palace) and Cheng (city which is covered by the walls). In conclusion, Forbidden city is believed as the place where earth emperor lives. After the fall of Qing dynasty and some revolution, Forbidden city’s function had been shifted into a public museum and then listed as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 1987.

This site is very close to the place where I stay in Wangfujing, right next to its subway station. To get here, we can get in from Tian An Men east or west station–we choose the east one. Once we got out of the station, we walked through a pedestrian  which is sided by tall and thick red brick wall. Tian An Men as the entrance to Forbidden City welcomed us not long after a few minutes walking.

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Tian An Men is southern gate of the palace which name means gate of heavenly peace. Here, the picture of Mao Zedong is hung in the middle of two giant placards which reads “Long Live the People’s Republic of China” on the west and “Long Live the Great Unity of the World’s Peoples” on the right.

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Taken from http://www.chinaspree.com/china-travel-guide/images/forbidden-city/forbiddenCity2.jpg

After entering Tian An Men, we still had to passed some gates as described on the pictures above before we “really” get into the city. Right from the Meredian Gate, it’s tangibly seen that there are hundred visitors who also visited. One catchy scene was depicted during that time, every body brought umbrella! What I can conclude is, they must be afraid of the overheat.

This is not something new for me. I ever met such phenomenon when I had my trip to some countries like Philippines, Cambodia, even in my own country. They don’t only wear jacket or long sleeves, but also trousers, fedora hat, sunglasses and even umbrella. Yup, I know the risk of having too much sun rays could lead to skin cancer. But, nothing goes wrong in enjoying the sun shine at least for a while, right?

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Umbrellas were every where…

Well, ladies and Gents, let’s have the “City” tour begun…

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The Golden Water Bridge originally was made of wood. describes a serpentine shape as it passes through the city. The river is called Golden Water river in order to associate the water that flows from the west with the Gold element (chinese five elements), while outside the palace, there are other river which have other names such as “Pipe river” and “Jade river”.  The shape was inspired by geomancy to reflect the golden hats and jade ribbons embracing water. The shape it self is serpentine. When Beijing was first constructed, there were many rivers running through it and they were supplemented by canals to connect them. Gradually, they were covered and the water was accessed through wells. When the entire expanse of the river could be seen, it had the shape of a dragon, wide at the head, twisting and turning through the body, and narrowing at the tail. ( http://hua.umf.maine.edu/China/HistoricBeijing/Forbidden_City/pages/070_ForbiddenCity.html)

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Gate of Supreme Harmony or Taihemen, north of the square, is the main gate of the Outer Court. We will be greeted by two bronze lions guarding the gate which symbolize the imperial power. The lion on the east side is male, which right front paw  holds on a globe to declare that imperial power extended world-wide. Meanwhile, the lioness on the west side which holds on a lion cub is denoting a thriving and prosperous imperial family. This is where the emperor usually hold wedding ceremonies (http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/beijing/forbidden/gate_supreme.htm)

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Hall of Supreme Harmony was erected in 1406 and has undergone many later repairs. As the heart of the Forbidden City, the so-called Golden Carriage Palace, used to be the place where emperors received high officials and exercised their rule over the nation. Grand ceremonies would be held here when a new emperor ascended the throne. Celebrations also marked emperors’ birthdays, wedding ceremonies and other important occasions such as the Winter Solstice, the Chinese New Year and the dispatch of generals into fields of war. Alongside the flights of steps which ascend the three tiers of the terrace, there are eighteen bronze Dings, a kind of ancient Chinese vessel, representing the eighteen national provinces of those times. Since it was symbol of the imperial power, it was the highest structure in the empire during the Ming and Qin dynasties. No other building was permitted to be higher any where in the empire. (Article quoted from http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/beijing/forbidden/supreme.htm)

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Some alleys inside the Forbidden city which connects to each concubines palace

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One of Concubine’s palace. Can you imagine, Kangxi emperor in Qing dynasty had more than 50 consorts?

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Shenwumen (Gate of Divine Prowess) as the back gate of Forbidden City was the important channel for entrance and exit. Both in Ming and Qing Dynasties, the empresses would come and go through this gate for official ceremony or rite that the Empresses nurtured silkworm by themselves to show the importance of raising silkworm. As we all know, the gates of Forbbiden City were also regulated by many rites and rules, and it is not anybody that can be qualified to enter or exit the gates, especially some main gates like Shenwumen. In Qing Dynasty, the Miss Contest for Emperor was held once every three years, and only the selected were qualified to enter the palace through the subsidiary gate of Shenwumen. In 1924, Emperor Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China in feudalistic period, was expelled out of the Forbidden City through this gate. (article quoted from http://www.beijingattractions.org/Architecture-of-Forbidden-City/Shenwumen.html)

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