The Eastern Palace Gate serving as the main gate of the entire palace complex is guarded on each side by two brass lions, which has existed since the reign of Emperor Qianlong(1736-95). Set in the centre of the staircase leading up to the gate is a large slab of carv stone with two dragons amusing themselves with giant pearls. This elegant symbol of imperial power was transferred here from the Garden of Perfection and Brightness. On the lintel above the gate, the three Chinese characters of the name of the Summer Palace”Yiheyuan” have been inscribed in Emperor Guangxu’s calligraphy.
Then you proceed to the front courtyard. The annex halls on both sides were used for officials on duty.
This is Lake Tai rock, over 3 meres tall from Wuxi, Jiangsu Province. The rock was formerly located in Prince Morgan’s Garden ( now the site of Peking University) and was moved here to provide grand view. Behind the rock is a bronze Suanni (a legendary beast of prey, ancient Chinese interpreted as a lion puppy). In ancient Chinese mythology, Suanni was one of the nine sons of the dragon. A point of peculiar interest is that it has the head of a dragon, the antlers of a deer, tail of a lion and hooves of an ox. It was put at the gate because the feudal rulers believed that it could detect any disloyal subject.
These are Tai Ping (Great Peace) vats for storing water against fire in the olden days. During the War of Resistance Against Japan (1937-45), the Japanese aggressor troops attempted to take them to Japan after they invaded Beijing. After 1945. they were moved back from Tianjin. According to official figures, there are at least 1 million Chinese artifacts in more than 200 foreign museums across 47 countries.
The bronze dragons and phoenixes are incense burners. Sandalwood or Tibetan incense was burned when the feudal rulers gave an audience.