The Forbidden City 故宮 - 紫禁 城 All rights reserved. Available free for non-commercial and non-profit use only. First created 20 Feb 2011. Version 1.0 Jerry Tse. London.
Plan The Inner CourtThe palace was divided into twoparts. The Outer Court was usedfor state ceremonies.The Inner Court was the residenceof the Emperor and his family. Itwas also used for running theday-to-day affairs of state. It wasrun by eunuchs. The Outer CourtIn early Ming Dynasty, there wereabout 1630 halls. In early Qingthere were 1800 halls. Currentlythe palace has 2631 halls and 90courtyards.
The Ming Zhudi was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty. He decided to move the capital from Nanjing to Beijing. He Builders 明 was a megalomaniac. Not only did he built the Forbidden City In Beijing, he also restored the Great Wall & the Grand Canal and sent his armada of ships into the Indian Ocean reaching Saudi Arabia and Africa. In 1406, he started building the Forbidden City, which took 15 years to complete in 1421, employing 200,000 craftsmen and million of labourers to build. It created an architectural complex unmatched in history. It is the biggest palace the world have even seen, with some 1630 halls. Unfortunately, it was burned down 3 times by major fires during the 273 years of the Ming Dynasty and had to be rebuilt again. Zhu Di 朱 棣A late 15C to early 16C painting depictingthe Heavenly Succession Gate 承天門and the Outer Five Dragons Bridge 外五龍橋 near today’s Tiananmen.
Construction MaterialsGlazed Roof Tile – By far the most common roof tiles are theyellow glazed tiles. Yellow being the colour of the emperor. Afew houses are covered with green tiles for the princes.Marble 漢白玉石 – The main buildings of the palaces werebuild on marble terraces. There is a huge inclined slab, withcarved dragons, weighs 300 tons. These were transported onsheets of ice pulled by 20000 men and horses and took amonth to travel the 50km journey.Bricks and Golden Bricks 金磚 – Bricks were used for pavingand for the external walls. Floor tiles are known as GoldenBricks, made in Suzhou. These were made of clay and took twomonths firing in kilns. A floor tile took two years to made, andcan last for centuries. They are called Golden Bricks becausethey are expensive to made.Timber – All palace buildings used timber frame structures. Themost important of timber are the pillars of Nanwu wood 楠木(Phoebe Zhennan). These logs were transported from southwestern China and took 4 years for the journey. Some 100,000Nanwu pillars were used in the construction. The wood workwere covered by a secret formulated paste, mixed with pig’sblood, flour and earth for preservation.
During the Qing dynasty, the palace was rebuilt many times afterQing 清 fires. Many buildings were also added to the palace. Below is a view of the palace on the wedding of the Qing Emperor Guangxu.
Qianlong 乾隆 (1711-95)The longest reigning emperor(1736-95) of Qing Dynasty. Hestarted a 60 years majorupgrade of the palaces.He was a highly culturedemperor, with a diverse range ofinterests – from collecting jadeto calligraphy etc. It was hiscollection more than any otheremperors that form thebackbone of the collection ofthe Qugong Museum in Beijingand of the Palace Museum ofTaipei.Under him, imperial Chinareached the zenith of herpower.
Moat The palace is surrounded by a 52 m wide moat.
The exterior walls is 10m high, 8.6m thick at the base. The core of theWalls wall is filled with earth, surfaced with three layers of special bricks
Corner Towers 角樓There are four watch towersat the four corners of thepalace walls.
Gates There are some 10,000 gates in the palace.
Meridian Gate 午門This is the grandest of all the palace gates. It is nearly 38m high. This marksthe beginning of the palace complex.
Decorative Glazed Tiles 琉璃 Apart from the distinctive yellow glazed tiles used for the roofs, tiles were also used as decorations on screens and walls.
RoofMythical creatureson the roof ridgesshowing the statusof the building. Distinctive yellow glazed tiles make the palace stand out from the rest of the city.Because most Chinese roofs were curved,the timber frame that supported the roofbecame more complicated.
Wooden ConstructionTimber Frame 梁架Traditional large Chinese buildings were mainly built of wood. Allthe weight of the building are supported by a wooden frame.Thus the wall are light and not weight bearing. Bracketing Dougongs are brackets that lock beams together with pillars together. 斗栱 The technique dated back to two Chinese carpenters developed thousand years. some of the most complicated wooden joints used in buildings (see diagram on the right). One of these complicated joint is the Luban Locking Joints 魯班 鎖, which is a joint used for three perpendicular beams.
Ceilings Caisson 藻 井 Coffered ceilings. 天花
Terraces 台 The use of terraces in Chinese architecture dated back to over 3000 years. The three main buildings of the outer court were built on a three tiers of marble terraces decorated with beautiful carved balustrades.基
Carved Slab The carved slab on the central staircase of the main terrace. Only the emperors were allowed to be carried over it.
Outer Court 外朝During the Ming Dynasty, the Outer Court is used by the emperor to attend the daily affairs of the state. During the Qing Dynasty, this usage was moved to the Inner Court. However, the Outer Court was always used for the special state occasions and ceremonies. The three most important buildings lies on the central north-south axis. They are the Hall of Supreme Harmony 太 和 殿 (first building on the photo), the Hall of Central Harmony 中和殿 (the small building behind) and the Hall of Preserving Harmony 保和殿 .
The original Ming building was twice as large as the current hall. It is oneSupreme of the largest wooden structure within China. The building is the focalHarmony 太和殿 point of the palace. It was used in Ming Dynasty to administration state affairs. In Qing Dynasty it was used only for ceremonial occasions.
Hall of Supreme Harmony - Interior 太和殿Richly decorated withbeautiful carvings, theDragon Throne stands ona raised platform,surrounding with urns,incense burners, carveddragons, cranes andelephants.Envoys were required tokneel and kowtow to thefloor nine times onapproach to the emperor.
It is the largest timber frame building in China. The building wasSupreme Harmony destroyed 7 times. The last rebuilt was in 1695-1697. 太和殿
Central Harmony It is small square hall, serving as a rest room. It was a stop over room for the emperor for last minute preparations before conducting state or 中和殿 ceremony affairs.
ThroneA beautifully carved dragon standing on theback of the throne. There are severalthrones in the palace. They are allbeautifully carved. Some are in gold colourand others with natural wood colours.
Hall of Preserving Harmony 保和殿The hall was used for the ‘imperial examination’,as well as banquets on Lunar New Year’s Eve toentertain ministers, generals, as well asMongolian and Tibetan nobles.
Musical InstrumentsA rack of gilded musicalbronze bells usedduring ceremonial andstate occasions. Thebells are similar in sizeand different notes areproduced using bellswith different thickness.
Inner Court 內朝The Inner Court was the home of the Emperor and his family. In Qing Dynasty the some halls within theInner Court were used by for administering state affairs.The Gate of Heavenly Purity (above) leading into the Inner Court. The three most important buildings inthe Inner Court echoes the group of the three buildings in the Outer Court. They are the Hall of HeavenlyPurity 乾清宫 (first building on the photo), the Hall of Union 交泰殿 (the small building behind) andthe Hall of Earthly Tranquillity 坤宁宫 .
The Gate of Heavenly Purity 乾清門Entrance to the privateworld of the emperor.
Palace of Heavenly Purity 乾清宫In early Qing Dynasty and Ming Dynasty, it ishere that the emperor conducted the day-to-day affairs. In late Qing, it was used as anaudience hall to receive foreign envoys andhigh ranked officials.
Hall of Union 交泰殿 The building was used as the empress’ dressing room or celebrations of her birthdays. The imperial seals were also kept in here in Qing.
Clepsydra (Water clock)The main mechanism of thewater clock consists of threecopper containers filled withwater. Water drips from the topcontainer to containers below inturn. The amount of watercollected at the bottom is used totell the time.
Hall of Earthly Tranquillity 坤寧宫 The last of the Inner Court halls.
Hall of Earthly Tranquillity 坤寧宫In Ming Dynasty, thebuilding was used asthe residence of theempress.In Qing it wasconverted into severalrooms and set out inManchurian style forreligious services. Thebuilding included akitchen for preparingfood for worship. Italso has a bridal roomand a study for theemperor.
雍正Hall of Mental The Qing emperor Yongzhen moved the emperor Cultivation 養心殿 residence here. The empress Dowager Cixi 慈禧 (reign 1861-1908) used the place to received state officials and ruled China.
Hall of Mental The main reception room where later Qing emperors Cultivation 養心殿 attended state affairs.
Hall of Mental This is the Cixi 慈禧 throne room. Behind the screen of Cultivation 養心殿 the throne was another throne, on which the Dowager Empress ruled China.
Hall of Mental This was the emperor’s bedroom behind the reception Cultivation 養心殿 room of the Hall of Mental Cultivation.
Imperial Garden 御花園 There are four gardens in the Inner Court of the palace. The Imperial Garden being the largest of them all. A giant incense burner in the
御景Imperial Garden Pavilion of Imperial Prospect overlooking the garden. 亭御花園
Imperial Garden 御花園 Studio of Spiritual Cultivation. 養性齋
Imperial Gardens 御花園 This is the First Gate of Heaven 天一門 .
Court Life To maintain the palace during the Qing Dynasty, 280,000 taels of silver were needed each year or approximately 340,000 troy ounces of silver. Last emperor and empress of China. Emperor Qianlong watching princes playing in snow.
Theatre – Pavillion of Pleasant Sounds, 暢音閣 . The largest stage of the three stories theatre in the palace.
Painted decorationsSuzhou style polychrome painted decorations Painted beams and brackets
Bronze Animal sculpturesBronze lion at the Gate of Supreme Harmony. Gilt bronze lion. Gilt bronze elephant in the garden. Bronze tortoise incense burner.
Doors decorations Carved panel on the doors at the Hall of Imperial Hall of Union. Supremacy Gate of Martial Spirit. Hall of Mental Cultivation
Qugong Museum The Forbidden City is also the home to the Palace Museum, Beijing.
The EndAdvance to next slide to see brief Music – Flying Dragons and Jumping Tiger 龍騰虎跃notes on Chinese architecture. composed by Li Minxiong 李民進 and performed by Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra.
Chinese Traditional Palatial (Dian 殿 ) ArchitectureChinese architecture uses modular architectural plan. Buildings are connected bycorridors or unified by courtyards. Buildings are not integrated to form a largerbuilding.Using timber as primary building material, this is the most important singlecharacteristics of Chinese architectural approach. Transportation costs can be veryhigh. Using timber also put a limit on the size, the height and the age of buildings.The availability of large hard wood timber is also a limitation.Chinese Dian buildings are based on a timber frame. The walls of the buildings are notweight bearing. This allows more light and airy interior. Buildings are cool in summerbut difficult to keep warm in winter. Buildings are inherent ‘earthquake proof’.To give the timber frame strength, interlocking joints were developed to a very highlevel of sophistication. This can be seen in the Dougong bracketing techniques. Thebasic principles and architectural design did not changed much for centuries. Chinese buildings are very colourful and timber does not preserved well. The maintenance costs are very high. Finally Chinese buildings are very vulnerable to fire. The Hall of Supreme Harmony was rebuilt 7 times, in 500 years.
The EndCarved dragon on wooden screen behind the throne.