Forbidden City

-- Zhonghedian (The Hall of Central Harmony) --

The smaller Hall of Central Harmony and larger Hall of Preserved Harmony Zhonghedian, the Hall of Central Harmony, was originally built in 1420, restored in 1627 and again 1765. It is square in shape rather than rectangular as the other two in the Outer Court and is the smallest of the three. It served as a private retreat or office-cum-study for emperors when on their way to conduct ceremonies in the Hall of Supreme Harmony. It was here that they consulted with their religious ministers. Each year prior to their departure for important sacrificial rites at the Temple of Heaven, the Temple of the Earth or elsewhere, they would read elegiac addresses. Before going to the Temple of the Ancestral Farmers, they would inspect the seeds and farming tools to be used during the ceremony. During the Qing dynasty the imperial genealogy was revised every ten years. A special ceremony was conducted in this hall so that the revision could be presented to His Majesty for approval.

The throne in the Hall of Central Harmony Inside, visitors can see standing on either side of the centrally positioned throne a pair of golden unicorns. Called 'luduan' in Chinese, these were believed to be multilingual and capable of travelling 9,000 kilometres in just one day. Due to their extraordinary abilities, effigies of these mythical beasts, which served also as sandalwood burners, were put beside the throne as a symbol of the emperors' great wisdom and intelligence. Beside the throne, there are two sedan chairs, that were used to shuttle emperors around the Forbidden City.

The last hall in the Outer Court - Baohedian (Hall of Preserved Harmony).

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