Tian’anmen (gate of heavenly peace) Rostrum was opened to the public for the first time in its history in 1988. From the rostrum of Tian’anmen , the late Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the people’s republic of China on October 1 , 1949, and since then it has been the symbol of the new china.
In modern Chinese history, several large mass demonstrations have taken place here the most famous was on May 4, 1919, when more than 3,000 students from Beijing schools and universities came to the square to demonstrate against Imperialism and the rule of warlords. On December 9, 1935, Beijing students marched to Tian’anmen to demonstrate their opposition to their opposition to the Japanese imperialists ‘ encroachment invasion of northern china and to the Kuomintang’s policy of non – resistance. More than ten thousand people participated, calling for an end to the civil war, and the formation of a united front against the foreign invaders. And from 1945 to 1949, Tian’anmen was even more frequently the meeting place for members of progressive student movements.
The structure was first named Chengtianmen(Gate of power endowed from Heaven or gate of heavenly succession ) when it was built in 1417 as the main the former imperial palace . In 1456 the wooden structure burned down after it was struck by lightning. In 1644, when the Manchus defeated Li zicheng , leader of a peasant uprising , he set fire to the building before running away from the city . The building was enlarged when it was rebuilt for the second time in 1651 , and renamed Tian’anmen(Gate of Heavenly Peace ) , also known as the state portal . The gate itself consists of a red platform with five vaulted gateways, surmounted by a wooden gate – tower. The top of the platform provides a rostrum for viewing the Square in front. This 33.7-metre-hight structure still stands today. The nine-room-wide and five –room- long wooden gate-tower was built to reflect the highly exalted status of the emperor. Sixty spherical columns from Indonesia support the entire building. The wood is very hard. To make the columns immortal, the workers scooped out a hole with 10-centimetre in diameter in each column with special bit and tool for injecting insecticide , the control of plant diseases and elimination of pests , waterproof and anticorrosive. Each column is 10 meters long and weighs 7 tons.
The gate-tower has a double roof of yellow-glazed- tiles and vermillion columns. the roof is in gambrel style(歇山), a traditional style of Chinese palace architecture, fully hipped(四坡屋顶) on both sides, and half-hipped at thee the ends so that an upper gable is loft exposed. The four side ridges lead to overhanging corner eaves supported by elaborate bracketing. The ridges of the upper roof are decorated with altogether ten glazed-tile wenshou 吻兽(chiwei 鸱尾or chiwen 鸱吻) a pottery figure of a grotesque animal placed at either end of roof ridge as an ornament): A pair of dragon headed figures is perched at each end of the central ridge and two chiwei stand on each of the four side ridges. these figures have tails like a kind of owl called ”cathead eagle” in Chinese. Legend claims that a kind of fish-dragon teems in the South Sea, which has a tail like the “cathead eagle,” and this tail can stir up the waves to make rain. Legend continues that placing chiwen with their “cathead eagle” tails on roof ridges could pervert fire. On the backs of the zhengwen 正吻(dragon-headed figure)at the ends of the main ridge are two fan-shaped swords, which are supposed to prevent them from escaping. Apart from the chiwen (hornless dragon, served as a decorative motif), there are ten other figures on the ridges such as an immortal, dragon, phoenix, lion, sky horse, sea horse, suanni, yanyu, xiezhi, douniu, and hangshi. When the gate-tower was constructed these figures were placed there to exorcise evil and calamity, but today they serve as beautiful ornamentation.
In ancient times in China, there used to be big wooden nails to prevent the tiles from sliding. They were replaced by glazed-tiles, which were later shaped into the mythical animals(or supernatural beasts) with an immortal仙人 in front. These animals are arranged in line of the dragon, the phoenix(the Sage-a title of respect for Confucius; for instance, in the ancient times, people compared Confucius as phoenix旧时指有圣德之人,故比孔子于凤), the lion, the heavenly horse, the sea horse, the suani, the yayu, xiezhi, douniu, and hangshi with a celestial being in front. The dragon and phoenix 凤 are symbols of the honored supremacy; the lion, king of beast from foreign lands, is the dominator of the mountains; the heavenly horse天马 and the sea horse 海马stand for emperor’s prestige and morale; the suanni(a legendary beast of prey, interpreted as a lion puppy) is said to be the beast of eating tiger and leopard. It is the symbol of the unity of the country and the symbol of all beasts following him; the yayu and the douniu are the strange beasts in the sea. Legend has it that they can make clouds and produce rain to prevent fire from disaster; the xiezhi, a fabulous animal reputed to be able to distinguish between good and evil, and it is the symbol of being open and above-board, purity and justice of the royal family; and the hangshi is symbolic of honour and auspice, prestige and wisdom, and it also implies subduing of evil spirits and getting rid of calamities. Nowadays, these animals are not only the architectural decorations, but also play a role of fixing the roof ridge and preventing from rain water leaking.