The square architecture before us is called the hall of complete harmony(Zhonghe Dian). it served as an antechamber. the emperor came here to meet with his countries and add his final touches to the prayers which would be read at the ancestral temple. The seeds,sowers and prayer intended for spring sowing were also examined here. the two Qing sedan chairs here on display were used for traveling within the palace during the reign of emperor Qianlong.
The hall of complete harmony was completed in the year 1420, the 18th year of Yongle Emperor, Ming Dynasty. Experiencing several burns and reconstruction, the current Zhonghe Dian is the one rebuilt in the 17th year of Tianqi, Ming Dynasty. In the beginning of Ming Dynasty, it was called Hua Gai Dian, in the 41th year of Jiajing, Ming Dynasty it was Zhongji Dian, and in the 2nd year of Shunzhi, Qing Dynasty the name Zhonghe Dian was started to be used. About Zhonghe Dian, the ichnography is square, the single pyramid-shaped roof is equipped with an eave and four angles, on the top is a gilded copper sphere. In the hall, the mud brick floor is made by a kind of material called “Jinzhuan”. Hanging above the throne is a plaque penciled by Qianlong emperor, which inscribed “Yun Zhi Jue Zhong”, meaning “The way of Heaven is profound and mysterious and the way of mankind is difficult. Only if we make a precise and unified plan and follow the doctrine of the mean, can we rule the country well.”
The way to the hall of supreme harmony(Taihe Dian) passes through the hall of complete harmony, before a grand ceremony, the emperor rests here and receives all officers’ worship. When offer sacrifice to gods or ancestors on sacrificial ceremony, the emperor would arrive a day early and review “Zhuban”, if sacrifice God of Agriculture, also examine tools. Genealogy named “Yudie” repairs a decade; the emperor reviews the repaired one and holds a grand storage ceremony. The words “Zhonghe” come from the Book of Rites, meaning “When we handle matters properly and harmoniously without leaning to either side, all things on earth will flourish.”
Founded in the 18th year Ming Dynasty of Yong Le(1420), the hall of Central Harmony experienced times of being ruins and reconstruction. And the hall we can see now was rebuilt in the 17th year Ming Dynasty of Tian Qi(1645). The hall was first named Huagai temple, then renamed as hall of Zhong Ji in the 41th year Ming Dynasty of Jia Jing(1562).In the 2nd year Qing Dynasty of Shun Zhi(1645),it got its last name– The hall of Central Harmony.
The hall, whose ichnography is square, has single eaves in every side, and a single pyramid-shaped roof equipped with four angles, on the top is a gilded copper sphere. In the hall, the floor is placed with so-called “Golden bricks”, whose material is a kind of fine mud. Directly above the throne of the Emperor is a hand inscription by Emperor Qianlong, which inscribed “Yun Zhi Jue Zhong”, meaning “the morality and justice from God is profound and mysterious, from human are Superficial and despiser. Only if we make a precise and unified plan and follow the doctrine of the mean, can we rule the country well.”
When having a grand ceremony, the Emperor would go through the Inner Court to the Hall of Supreme Harmony, resting here and receiving all officers’ genuflection in the hall of Central Harmony .When having a sacrificial ceremony on sacrificing their ancestors, the Emperor would arrive one day ahead and review the blessing of boards. While (it was) sacrificing God of Agriculture, he would also check farm tools .The genealogy of the Emperors, also called “Yudie”, would be revised each decade. After the revision, the Emperor would check and review, and then held a grand ceremony to restore the “Yudie”. The words ” Central Harmony ” come from the Book of Rites, meaning that” Whatever things are being done, we should keep impartial and appropriate. Only maintain harmony, the universe will be able to thrive and flourish permanently.”
During the Qing dynasty, banquets were held here on new year’s eve in honor of Mongolian and northwestern china’s Xingjiang princes and ranking officials. the emperor also dinned here with his new son-in-law on the wedding day. imperial examinations were also held here once every three years. during the Ming and qing dynasties, there were three levels of exams: the county and prefecture level, the provincial level and national level. the national exam was presided over by the emperor. the civil service exam in ancient china started during the Han dynasty.It served the purpose of recruiting Confucian scholars to the ministers and high officials. during the tang and qing dynasties re instituted and ancient system. once every three years, three hundred scholars from all over the country came to Beijing and took exams for three day and night. this system was abolished in 1905.
This is the largest stone carving in the palace . it is 16.73 meters long, 3.07 meters wide and 1.7 meters thick .It weighs about 200 tons. the block was quarried in fangshan county, roughly 70 kilometers away. to transport such a huge block to Beijing, laborers dug wells along the roadside half a kilometer apart, and used the groundwater to make a road of ice in the winter. rolling blocks were used in the summer. in 1760, emperor qianlong of the qing dynasty ordered the carving of the existing cloud and dragon design in place of the old one which dated back to the Ming dynasty.