Hall of Supreme Harmony

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the hall of supreme harmony
the hall of supreme harmony

Taihe means having good social order and without war free from worry.

This is the throne hall, also known as “Hall of the Golden Throne,” (a popular name for the emperor’s audience hall, e. g. the Hall of Supreme Harmony in the Imperial Palace). First built in 1420, it was largely rebuilt on the same plan in 1645, while a further reconstruction was started in 1669, and not finished till thirty years later. It was again rebuilt in 1697 since when it had been frequently restored and repaired, though so conservative were the Qing architects that it is unlikely that they departed much from the Ming original—which was itself a cautious repetition of the style of the fifteenth century. After two months’ damage assessments by Chinese and Italian conservation experts in early 2006. The administrative arm of the Forbidden City, declared in early April that it would give the hall a two-year facelift starting in June 2006. This was the first renovation work on the Hall of Supreme Harmony in three centuries. The hall is the largest wooden building in the world.

The aged building faced three major problems—the affects of the weather on glazed tiles, water leaking onto wood and colored paintings on its walls fading away. And many wooden parts were distorted because of years of over-loading. Therefore, the building was revamped again in 2006/7 so as to make the hall look how it did when first built; workers used original materials and procedures. The hall is rectangular in shape, and is as high as 36.57 meters, 60 meters wide and 33 meters on both sides and stands on a three-flight, 8-metre-high terrace of white marble. It encompasses 2,381 square meters. The entire building is supported by 72 wooden pillars, of which the four in the centre, each has big dragon curling around the pillar, a symbol of imperial authority. The ratio of the length and width of the building is 9to 5, signifying the imperial dignity. The hall was also the most important building in Chinese politics from the 14th century to the early 20th century. Inside, 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties ascended the throne. This vast building has never been touched, except for minor maintenance work since it was rebuilt in 1697 after is burnt down in a fire. The hall is Chinas’ largest existing palace structure of wood and an outstanding example of the brilliant color combination for which Chinese architecture is noted.

In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Hall of Supreme Harmony was used for ceremonies which marked the nation’s highest-ranking events, such as the enthronement of an emperor, the emperor’s birthday, the celebration of the first day of the New Year, the Winter Solstice, the Spring Festival (which lasted from the first day to the fifteenth day of the first lunar month of the year),the announcement of the names of successful candidates in the imperial examinations, the proclamation of the important imperial decrees and declarations of war. They all took place in the hall, and whose foundations were specially designed to fool would-be assassins tunnelling into the palace on these occasions. The foundation comprises seven layers of bricks lengthways and eight layers crosswise. Just imagine the majestic scene that unfolded repeated in the hall for six centuries. The emperor sat on his throne; he one-kilometre-long “Imperial Road” leading from Tian’anmen (the Gate of Heavenly Peace)to the Hall of Supreme Harmony was flanked with imperial insignias, flags and banners. The grand scale of the courtyard was necessary to accommodate the large numbers civil officials and military officers who would assemble here for important ceremonies. Arrayed according to the feudal rank, they knelt down row upon row in the spacious courtyard below the emperor’s feet, kowtowed and chanted aloud“Long Live Majesty.” Gongs, chimes and other musical instruments were set up in the gallery played, and the fragrance of incense floated from the bronze crane and tortoise censers by the imposing architecture and ritual was designed to keep the subjects of the “Son of Heaven” in awe.

The emperor’s throne, carved of sandalwood, lies in the middle of the hall. As the symbol of imperial throne, the hall was where the Ming and Qing emperors received high officials and exercised their rule over the nation. The hall floor is paved with “golden bricks,” so-called because of the pleasing sound they make when stepped on. After baking for 136 days they were then immersed in tung oil (tung oil it is used for the caulking, oiling and vanishing of junks and sampans) for a permanent polish. The skills that went into making them were lost after the fall of the Qing Dynasty.

The hall’s interior is largely empty, but for 14 pillars supporting the roof. The central six are gilded and painted with dragon designs while the rest are lacquered in red. Above it is a gold painted caisson, or a sunken panel inside the ceiling. From its centre hangs a large, spherical pearl called Xuanyuan(another name for the Yellow Emperor) Mirror. Legend claims that the pearl was supposed to be able to tell right from wrong. Another tales goes that it is called zaojing, which means “aquatic plants”and “well”, both having to do with water. It is one of the ceiling forms of traditional Chinese architecture. It is covered ceiling with various kinds of decorative patterns, carvings, and coloured drawings. Generally speaking, zaojing is made as a square form, or in a form of polygon or in a round state of being concave. It was so named because there was constant worry about fire, which might destroy the wooden palace buildings. With water from the zaojing, therefore the ancient Chinese believed, the threat of fire would be averted. It was placed over the throne and also served as architectural decoration. It was also designed to create an aura of solemnity and mystery. In the middle of the ceiling is the design of a dragon playing with pearls. They are made of glass, painted with mercury,representing sun light. The most magnificent zaojing is that of the Hall of Supreme Harmony. Carved and built with consummate skills, its splendour had remained undiminished by the passage of time. The caisson ceiling consists of three parts of different depths. The central or deepest part is the round “well (jing), ” the middle part is the octagonal “well,” and the outermost part coming down to the same level as the rest of the ceiling, is a square. The entire design represents the ancient Chinese belief that “Heaven is above and the Earth below” and that Heaven is round and the Earth square “Dominating the centre of the caisson is a coiled dragon looking down into the hall and holding a suspended huge silver-white pearl in its mouth It vies for glamour with the gilded dragons on the columns, giving the throne hall a colorful yet solemn nobility not to be found elsewhere.

The hall’s double-layer arched roof (totaling 10,000 golden glazed tiles on the roof of the Hall of Supreme Harmony, 60 per cent of them were worn out before renovation), which slopes down slightly to the four eaves, has 10 gargoyles—nine animals and one phoenix—riding on each of its four ridges. They were supposed to protect the building from evil spirits.

Many old buildings have been renovated and restored to their former glory (or splendour) before the Olympic Games in 2008

The last Qing emperor Puyi was born in 1906. He ascended the throne in 1908 at the age of three. He was so scared during the coronation that he kept crying. He shouted: “ I don’t want to stay here, I want to go home. ” His cry extremely upset the dignified atmosphere. His father tried to soothe him, saying, “it’ll soon be finished, it’ll soon be finished. “Three years later, the feudal system collapsed that had lasted for more than 2,000 years. However, he stayed in the Palace for another 13 years until 1924 when he was driven out of the palace The remaining 470 imperial eunuchs and 100 palace maids were freed and he moved into his father’s princely mansion with his wife and imperial concubine.

The following year,he left for Tianjin and disguised himself as a Japanese merchant. After Japanese aggression of northeast China in 1931, puyi was made a puppet emperor of “Manzhouguo”with Changchun (now capital of Jilin Province in northeast China) as its capital. He was captured by the Soviet Red Army in 1945 and was sent to China in 1950. He was imprisoned for almost 10 years until 1959 when he was given amnesty.

Puyi was the last emperor in Chinese feudal society lasting more than 2,000 years. He was once an emperor, abdicated emperor puppet emperor, prisoner of war (P.O.W), a guilty person and then a citizen. He turned over a new leaf, and was assigned a job in the Institute of Botanical Garden under the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. His life was full of frustrations and complexity. He died of cancer in 1967 at the age of 61. After cremation, his ashes were placed at Babaoshan people’s Cemetery in the western suburb of Beijing. On January 26, 1995, his ashes were buried in Hualong Royal Cemetery, the first of its kind in mainland China, within Yixian County of Hebei Province by the people’s government Nestled within the Cultural Relics Protection Zone of the Western Qing Tomb, the Hualong Royal Cemetery is a modern cemetery of commemorative park, an entity of burial commemoration, and sightseeing and cultural display as well.

The paint is put on wood as a protection against rotting. The small holes on the walls in the Forbidden City are used to pour insecticide/pesticide into them for anli-pests, waterproof and anti-rot as well.

The Forbidden City used to be the centre of ancient Beijing. If you draw a diagonal line of the Forbidden City, the Hall of Supreme Harmony is the centre of the Forbidden City. The throne in the Hall is the centre of the Hall of Supreme Harmony.

These magnificent ancient buildings in the Forbidden City demonstrate the great intelligence of the Chinese laboring people.

Ancient Zhou ritual, to which the Ming and Qing rulers rigidly conformed, had prescribed that the ordained Son of Heaven should rule from “three courts.” Accordingly, the heart of the Forbidden City is dominated by the three great halls of state, set one behind the other at the climax of the great axis. The first from the south, and the largest, is the Hall of Supreme Harmony used by the emperor for his grander audience, raised on a huge platform and approached by marble staircases. Behind it lies the waiting hall, or Hall of Complete Harmony or Hall of Middle Harmony, while beyond is Hall of Preserving Harmony or Hall of Protecting Harmony, used for state banquets. The private apartments, offices of state, palace workshops and gardens occupy the northern half of this vast enclosure. Not many of the palace buildings the visitor sees today are the original structures, however. The history of the Hall of Supreme Harmony is more typical. The splendor of the Forbidden City lies not in its details, but rather in its rich color, now wonderfully mellowed by age, the magnificently simple sweep of its roofs, and the stupendous scale of its layout. These buildings were all of timber.

During the first phase of the large renovation project of the Forbidden City from 2003 to 2005, experts did a lot of research and discovered at least 15 varieties of timber including larch were used for the construction of the forbidden City. Of those varieties of timber included nine coniferous trees (or conifers), six broadleaf trees, including larch, fir wood, dragon spruce (picea asperata), oak pine, hardwood pine, cypress,roundwood and others. Experts considered that these research achievements have provided scientific basis for prospecting ancient buildings’ wooden structures, mapping out the blueprint of the renovation and the replacements of the timber as well.

There was a saying in the imperial times: “One thousand people entered the mountains, only 500 returned. This is a true portrayal of the death situation of the lumbering people.”

The word harmony is a salient value in Chinese culture and tradition, and that is why China now advocates building a harmonious world while emphasizing peaceful development and trying to make a harmonious society for its own