Large Stone Carving
On the ascents and
descents to the raised marble platforms there are large
stone carvings forming ramps flanked by stairs. The emperor
would be carried in his sedan over the stone carving and
was the only person allowed to pass over it.
The gate to the Inner Court can be seen
across the courtyard
(QianQingMen, Gate of
The largest stone carving lies on the
descent from the raised platform of the Outer Court,
heading north towards the Inner Court, behind the Hall
of Preserved Harmony.
The carvings always involved the dragon,
symbol of celestial power and the emperor.
This single stone is 16.75 meters long,
3.07 meters wide and 1.7 meters thick. It weighs more
than 200 tonnes. Quarried from the FangShan mountains
west of Beijing, it was heaved to the Forbidden City
using logs in summer and by pouring water along the way
in winter till it froze and sliding the huge block along
the ice. It was put in place at the time the three main
Halls were built around 1418.
In 1761, Emperor QianLong ordered that
the original carvings be hewn away and replaced with new
designs. At the bottom are curling waves and above there
are nine dragons playing in the clouds. Around the edge
are interlocking lotus flowers.
: The Gate of Celestial Purity