The Forbidden City
Trip Start Mar 21, 2005
351Trip End Ongoing
The symbolism within the Forbidden City defines Chinese culture, the Emperor, and his power. The location within the heart of Beijing is strategic. The guards, watchtowers, moat, and walls separate the Emperor from the people, adding mystery and authority to the throne. The crane and turtle sculptures provide longevity to the Emperor. The marble foundations for the main buildings elevate the Emperor to a higher level. The dragon ceiling paintings represent power. The yellow tiles are royal and only used within the Forbidden City. The incense burners provide olfactory peace and tranquility within the gardens. Flowing water and ancient cypress trees add grace to the layout. Trigrams from Confucius' Book of Changes name the halls and gates
Marble steps to the seat of power
The Emperor dies peacefully
There is no longer an emperor. As empires fall, the surviving palaces and castles of the empires now become relicts, to be enjoyed by the common folks. Today, the painting of Mao Zedong greets visitors walking across Tiananmen Square to the Forbidden City and announces the modern reign of the People's Republic.
In 2008, the Olympics will arrive in Beijing. In preparation, the Forbidden City is a zone of renovation, with workers repainting the indigo and maroon walls and fixing the yellow tiles, which glow golden in the afternoon sunlight. The choice of renovation is different from the European model, where old paints are meticulously restored. Here, the old paint is completely stripped and new paint is applied to the ancient buildings. Cobalt blue with golden inlay replaces washed-out grey. As a finished product, the buildings will look as if they were built yesterday. The ones already renovated explode with color.
Under pale cerulean skies, imagine the emperor ascending to his throne in the Hall of Supreme Harmony, in full royal garb, about to send his generals to war. Imagine the hundreds of years of pomp, intrigue, decision-making, life, and death, peace and war within the walls of the Forbidden City.