Red Walls and Yellow Glazed Tile Roof

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Red Walls and Yellow Glazed Tile Roof
Red Walls and Yellow Glazed Tile Roof
What about Forbidden City buildings that do not have red walls and yellow glazed tile roofs

In China, the colour red has long meant solemnity, happiness, wealth and honour. The Upper Cave Man, a primitive human being who lived near Beijing 10,000 to 20,000 years ago, used red colour to decorate their caves. Red painted palaces appeared more than 2,000 years ago and continued all the way down to the Qing Dynasty. But what about Forbidden City buildings that do not have red walls and yellow glazed tile roofs?

Wenyuange (the Imperial Library) has black glazed tile roofs. This again goes back to the theory of wuxing ( the five elements–metal, wood, water, fire and earth; held by the ancients to compose the physical universe and later used traditional Chinese medicine to explain various physiological and pathological Phenomena), in which black represents water. The black roof was supposed to protect the building from fire. Nansansuo , the Qing princes’ quarters,has green-glazed-tiles on its roofs. According to the rules, green tiles were to be used on princes’ residence. Where artisans and chefs worked and lived, the roofs were made of grey-tiles and the walls were grey-brick.

Yellow has long been considered a pure colour in China. It represents the earth among the five elements-metal, wood, water, fire and earth-and indicates the centre and symbolizes dignity.

According to ancient records, the tang-dynasty (618-907) emperors adopted the practice of the previous dynasty, and wore yellow robes. Later, they forbade others to dress in yellow. After that, yellow became the symbolic colour of the imperial family.

Yellow-glazed-tile roofs were used in the Imperial Palace in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). It was stipulated in the Ming and Qing dynasties that yelow-glazed-tiles could be used on imperial palaces and tombs, or on temples built under the orders of the emperor. Those who used them in any other way could be sentenced to death.