Hall of Supreme Harmony

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The Hall of Supreme Harmony (太和殿) at the centre of the Forbidden City
The tablet of the Hall of Supreme Harmony

The Hall of Supreme Harmony (Chinese: 太和殿; pinyin: Tài Hé Diàn; Manchu: Amba hūwaliyambure deyen) is the largest hall within the Forbidden City. It is located at its central axis, behind the Gate of Supreme Harmony. Built above three levels of marble stone base, and surrounded by bronze incense burners, the Hall of Supreme Harmony is one of the largest wooden structures within China. It was the location where Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty Emperors hosted their enthronement and wedding ceremonies. The name of the Hall was changed from Feng Tian Dian (奉天殿) to the current one by the Shunzhi Emperor of Qing Dynasty.

Together with the Hall of Central Harmony and Hall of Preserving Harmony, the three halls constitute the heart of the Outer Court of the Forbidden City.

The Hall of Supreme Harmony rises some 30 meters above the level of the surrounding square. It is the ceremonial center of imperial power, and the largest surviving wooden structure in China. It is nine bays wide and five bays deep, the numbers nine and five being symbolically connected to the majesty of the Emperor.[1] The six pillars nearest the imperial throne are covered with gold, and the entire area is decorated with a dragon motif. The imperial Dragon Throne, in particular, has five dragons coiled around the back and handrests. The screen behind it features sets of nine dragons, again reflecting the "nine-five" symbolism.[2]

Set into the ceiling directly above the throne is an intricate caisson decorated with a coiled dragon, from the mouth of which issues a chandelier-like set of metal balls. Called the "Xuanyuan Mirror", this object harkens back to Xuanyuan, the Yellow Emperor, the legendary first ruler of China.[3] In the Ming Dynasty, the Emperor held court here to discuss affairs of state. During the Qing Dynasty, Emperors held court far more frequently. As a result, the location was changed to the Inner Court, and the Hall of Supreme Harmony was only used for ceremonial purposes, such as coronations, investitures, and imperial weddings.[4]

The original hall was built by the Ming Dynasty in 1406 and was destroyed seven times by fires during the Qing Dynasty and last re-built in 1695–1697.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Palace Museum. "Yin, Yang and the Five Elements in the Forbidden City" (in Chinese). Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  2. ^ p 67, Yu, Zhuoyun (1984). Palaces of the Forbidden City. New York: Viking. ISBN 0-670-53721-7. 
  3. ^ p 253, Yu (1984)
  4. ^ The Palace Museum. "太和殿 (Hall of Supreme Harmony)" (in Chinese). Retrieved 2007-07-25. 

Coordinates: 39°54′57.2″N 116°23′26.4″E / 39.915889°N 116.390667°E / 39.915889; 116.390667