The full name of the Forbidden City in Chinese should be the Purple Forbidden City. The complex is divided into southern and northern parts. The 24 emperors of the Ming(1368-1644) and Qing(1644-1911) dynasties used the southern part for imperial affairs of state, while the northern part was reserved for the imperial residence halls. The entire compound is arranged along a central axis which is identifiable with the supposed central line dividing the earth down the middle, and this line can be clearly seen from the air or from atop the hill in Coal Hill Park just opposite the Museum’s back gate.
According to ancient Chinese astrology and some elements of Taoist cosmology and meditation metaphors, the compound’s symmetrical arrangement mirrors the mythical “Heavenly Palace,” or “Purple Forbidden Enclosure.” Legend goes that the centre of the Heavenly Palace was the North Star still depicted above the human head in certain Taoist sacred representations-the centre of heaven, mirrored again in the microcosm of the human form on earth. The palatial complex is considered to be the earthly incarnation of that celestial palace, the Forbidden City of earth, and hence its full name: Purple Forbidden City. Metaphorically, the palace is an incarnation of heaven just as the human figure is a microcosm of heaven, especially as it roams the rooms and corridors of the Purple City on earth.