Hall of Supreme Harmony, part 1
After passing the Gate
of Supreme Harmony (TaiHeMen), you will see the Hall
of Supreme Harmony (TaiHeDian) across another
spacious courtyard which covers a space of 30,000 square
meters - the biggest courtyard in the Forbidden City.
A view of the
Hall of Supreme Harmony from the
Gate of Supreme Harmony.
Sitting on a seven meter
high, three-tier marble terrace, the grandest timber
framework building ever in China will overwhelm anyone.
The Hall of Supreme Harmony
The hall was first built
in 1406 and later repaired many times. As the heart of
the Forbidden City, the so-called 'Golden Carriage
Palace', used to be the place where emperors received
high officials and practiced their rule over the nation.
Also, grand ceremonies would be held to celebrate a new
emperor's ascending to the throne, emperors' birthdays
and wedding ceremonies and other important occasions such
as the Winter Solstice, the Chinese New Year and
dispatching generals to war.
from on top of the terrace.
Because the Hall of
Supreme Harmony was a symbol of imperial power, it
was the highest structure in the nation during the Ming
and Qing dynasties - no other building was allowed to be
higher than it. The heavily glazed hall is 35.02 meters
high (37.44 meters if rooftop decorations are counted),
63.96 meters in width and 37.2 meters in length.
The emperor would arrive
at the Hall of Supreme Harmony amidst ceremonial music,
drum-beating and firecrackers. He would them take his
place on the throne and listen to a reading of
congratulatory messages from his palace courtiers. Civil
and military officials would all kneel before him
proclaiming : "Long Live Your Majesty".
There are in total 72
pillars standing in six rows to support the roof. Each of
the pillars supporting the hall was made from a single
piece of wood, about 18 metres high.
Along the three-tier
marble terrace stairs, there are 18 bronze Dings, a type
of ancient chinese vessel, to represent the 18 provinces
of the nation (as was then).
On the terrace, which is
luxuriously balustraded, a bronze crane and a bronze
tortoise can be seen.
They were placed there to
expect everlasting rule and longevity. The marble Rigui
(sundial), in the east and the JiaLiang (an ancient
measuring vessel) in the west were placed there to show
that the emperors were just and fair.
In front of the hall,
there are a couple of gilded bronze vats, which were used
to hold water in case of fire. A fire could be lit under
the vat in winter to stop the water from freezing. There
are 308 vats in total in the Forbidden City.
It took 136 days to bake
the floor tiles before they were immersed in tung oil for
another 49 days and then polished; not only to look
beautiful, but also to sound nice when walked upon.
The doors and windows are decorated
with brass panels embossed with designs of dragons
playing in the clouds.
Next : The Hall of
Supreme Harmony, part 2