RTA-RITU - An Exhibition on Cosmic Order and Cycle of Seasons
THE IMPERIAL CITY
began to take the form of a town as far back as 3,000 years ago. The
earliest records of the
settlements in Beijing date around 1000 B.C. By the warring period it was
the capital of Yan Kingdom and Beijing was called Ji. During the Liao
dynasty Beijing was referred to as Yanjing (capital of Yan). Beijing has
attracted the attention of many a conqueror due to its strategic position.
During the year 1215 Genghis Khan burned all that had gone before him. By
1279 Genghis grandson Kublai had made himself the ruler and Khan baliq was
his capital. Until this time attempts were made to unify China. But in
1300, foreigners managed to invade again. In the year 1368 Zhu Yanhang
provoked an uprising against Mongol emperor, and took Beijing in 1368,
ushered in the Ming Dynasty and the city was renamed Beijing. During the
reign of Emperor Chengzu of the Ming dynasty, the capital was again
established in Beijing.
earlier capitals such as Chang’an and Luoyang, Beijing attempted to
mirror a divine plan. The city was rectangular, as the earth was square in
Chinese cosmology. Its broad thorough-fares ran parallel and perpendicular
to a north-south axis. The great walled city with its nine imposing gates
enclosed a smaller imperial complex with walls of its own. Within them,
stood the imperial palace compound, the Forbidden City. Its rosy ramparts
were intended to dominate the earth as the polestar did the heavens.
of the Forbidden City began as early s in 1407 by Emperor Yong Le
to Yu Zhuoyun a specialist on ancient structures expressed the view that
the mystical ancient Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang as well as Wuxing
underlay the design of the Forbidden City, according to which every object
in nature is composed of two opposing, but mutually dependent principles
known as Yin and Yang, male and female. A pair of Odd and Even numbers
were defined as Yang and Yin. Based
on this philosophy, the odd-numbered outer halls in the palace complex
were considered to belong in the category of Yang while the even-number
inner halls were defined as Yin.
Philosophy of Wuxing also separates common objects in the universe into
five categories. For example, metal, wood, water and earth for material
substances; east, west, south, north and central for direction; and blue,
yellow, red, white and black for colour. It is quite evident that the
philosophy dominated the use of colour, in the construction of the palace.
For instance, the roofs of most of the halls in the Forbidden City are
covered by glazed yellow tiles. According to Wuxing the use of yellow, or
the imperial colour, was designated to represent the centre, a perennial
symbol of the origin of the universe. In line with the Wuxing concept,
that fire promotes the growth, and thus the arch, the palaces, outer
walls, gates, pillars and window frames were painted red, to symbolize
View of the forbidden city
palace complex known as the Forbidden City stands in the centre of
Beijing. The Forbidden City was completed in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty.
It was the home of 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Chinese, the palace complex is called ‘Purple’ Forbidden City.
‘Purple’ has a mythological origin. It is the colour of the North Star
where the Emperor of Heaven Shmgdi ,
symbolically resides. The abode of the temporal emperor therefore, is
The political paramountcy of the ideal Emperor on earth is often equated to the Pole Star, the unwavering Omega Point around which all the heavenly bodies revolve.
Hall of Harmony
|From the Hall of Supreme Harmony, within the Forbidden city, the emperor presided over Wanzu Tianxia, “all under heaven”. In Chinese conception, the Emperor is the embodiment of the great Chinese Triad of Heaven, Earth and Man. He is the one in whom the two complementary principles of life are in perfect harmony. The Chinese character 'Wang’ or ‘Emperor’ conveys these concepts|
Alter of Heaven
Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest
Temple of Heaven Complex
TEMPLE OF HEAVEN
Temple of Heaven is the largest extant groups of buildings, in China ever
erected for sacrificial purposes. A 360 meter long causeway known as the
Bridge of Cinnabar Stairway or Sacred Way, connects the complex’s three
main buildings- the Altar of Heaven, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the
Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest.
in the southern part of Beijing, the Temple of Heaven was built in 1420.
Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties came here to pray for a good
harvest in spring and for rain in summer, and to offer sacrifices to
heaven in winter.
buildings in the temple are circular and the outer walls of the Alter of
Heaven and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest are square, to symbolise
the between Heaven and Earth The Altar is a circular three-tiered
structure. The steps and railings on this triple-tiered marble terrace
were constructed in nines or multiples of nine. Nine is the numerical
representation of Yang (the masculine or the positive) in the Yin-Yang
theory. Traditionally, Heaven is considered masculine or positive, while
the Earth is believed to be feminine or negative.
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