Forbidden City
-- Taihemen (Gate of Supreme Harmony) --

Front view of Gate of Supreme Harmony - the gate to enter the Outer Court Behind Wumen, The Meridian Gate, one can see five bridges with a courtyard beyond. Occupying the centre of the northern side of this courtyard is Taihemen, The Gate of Supreme Harmony.

The Inner Golden River flows beneath the bridges which are consequently referred to as The Inner Golden River Bridges. The central bridge was used exclusively by the emperor. The two flanking it were for use by members of the royal family. The two outer bridges were for court officials. The bridges have marble balustrades richly carved with dragon and phoenix motifs. With the ever present threat of fire damage to the palace buildings, the river served as a water reservoir as well as being a decorative feature.

The large courtyard beyond the river covers ten thousand square meters. It is treeless as, in Imperial China, the emperor was regarded as the Son of Heaven. Born to rule the empire, his was the loftiest position no one and nothing could appear higher. The Hall of Supreme Harmony, is the highest building in the Forbidden City and not even trees could overshadow it. There are many other instances of this particular arrangement throughout the City.

The bronze lion guarding the imperial gate is squatting and overwhelming. You will be astonished to learn that the foundations of the palace were laid in a very special way - seven layers lengthways and eight layers crosswise, totalling fifteen layers in all. This precaution was intended to prevent assassins tunnelling into the palace. Paving bricks were specially made so as to make a pleasing sound when walked upon. The rooms on each side are said to have served as warehouses for storing such items as fur, porcelain, silver, tea, silk, satin and clothes.

Taihemen, north of the square, is the main gate of the Outer Court and which is fairly grand. The gate is guarded by two bronze lions. These symbolise imperial power. The lion on the east side is male. Its right front paw is placed on a globe denoting that imperial power extended world-wide. The lioness on the west side has its left front paw on a lion cub. This denotes a thriving and prosperous imperial family.

The gate is important as it was here that the emperors' wedding ceremonies were usually held. Here to, in the October of the first year under Shunzhi reign of the Qing dynasty, Emperor Shunzhi announced an Act of Grace.

Are you impressed? You've already seen Taihedian (Hall of Supreme Harmony), go!

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