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Hall of Supreme Harmony


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Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihedian)
Hall of Supreme Harmony, also called Taihedian, is the most striking building in the entire Forbidden City. Entering Taihemen (Gate of Supreme Harmony), you will see Taihedian (Hall of Supreme Harmony) across the spacious square, which covers of 30,000 square meters. The Hall of Supreme Harmony, is the highest building in the Forbidden City and not even trees could overshadow it.

Hall of Supreme Harmony is also called the "Throne Hall" or "Golden Carriage Palace". It was first built in 1420, but was burnt down several times, and the present hall was rebuilt in 1695.

Hall of Supreme Harmony used to be the place where emperors received high officials and exercised their rule over the nation. Grand ceremonies would be held here when a new emperor ascended the throne. It was also used for ceremonies which marked emperors' birthdays, wedding ceremonies, Winter Solstice, the Chinese New Year and the dispatch of generals into fields of war.

Alongside the flights of steps which ascend the three tiers of the terrace, there are eighteen bronze Dings, a kind of ancient Chinese vessel, representing the eighteen national provinces of those times. On the luxuriously balustrades terrace, stand a bronze crane and a bronze tortoise, symbols of everlasting rule and longevity. The marble Rigui, an ancient sun dial on the eastern side and the Jialiang, an ancient measuring vessel on the western side demonstrate that the emperor was both just and fair. In front of the hall, there are a couple of gilded bronze vats, which were used to hold water in case of fire.

The 35.05-metre-high (115-foot-high) hall was the tallest building in Beijing during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The traditional way calculating the interior space of a building was to count the number of squares. Space enclosed by four pillars was treated as one room, so this hall can be said to have 55 "rooms", 11 rooms wide and five rooms deep.

Inside of the hall, the floor is paved with special bricks which were fired long and then polished by being soaked in tung oil. The emperor's throne was carved out of sandalwood and gilded. The throne is located in the center of the hall and surrounded by six thick gold-lacquered pillars decorated with dragons. Dragons are carved all over the golden throne. Around the throne stand two bronze cranes, an elephant-shaped incense burner and tripods in the shape of mythical beasts. The magnificent sculpture on the ceiling shows a dragon playing with a huge pearl, which is said to be the earliest mirror made in ancient China. It symbolized that the emperor was the legitimate successor.

Ceremonies procedures
During the ceremonies in the Ming and Qing dynasties, the civil and military officials would position themselves according to their ranks; kneel down as guards of honor stood by. The emperor seated on his throne was wreathed in fragrant clouds of incense rising from the incense burners inside and outside the hall. The imposing surroundings and awesome atmosphere were designed to leave an impression on all the attendants that he was the "son of Heaven".

Announcing the story about the Hall of Supreme Harmony
This is also the place where the last Qing Emperor Puyi ascended the throne in 1908 at the age of three. He was so scared at the complicated procedures that he kept crying and shouting: "I don't want to stay here, I want to go home." His father tried to soothe him and said, "It will soon be over." The civil and military officials got stunned when they heard of this saying, for they thought it suggested that the dynasty would soon be over. Three years later, the Qing Dynasty that had lasted 267 years did collapse.

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