The Official schematic Map of The Forbidden City, by The Palace Museum. In the South-West a new corner has opened to the Public Recently (2005).
Architectural Structures of
the Forbidden City (Palace Museum) :
Representing the element "Earth" in the Five Elements Theory, Gardens are an important standard element of any traditional Chinese Mansion or Palace, let alone an Imperial Palace. Thus trees, flower beds and whole gardens can be found in various places around the "Forbidden City".
Several other Palaces within the Imperial Palace are so grand in design and luxurious that they have their very own gardens. First among these is ranked the "Palace of Peaceful Longevity (Palace of Peaceful Old Age)", the much hailed retirement Palace of the Qianlong Emperor (who never really retired until his death and only visited this luxurious Palace on rare occassion) located in the extreme east of the Inner Court. The "Qianlong Garden", to be exact the Ning Shou Gong Quan Hua Yuan, of this Palace was first constructed in the year 1776 AD (41st year of Reign), as an Imperial Garden for the private use of the Qianlong Emperor after his abdication. The garden is 160 meters from
View of the interior court of the Wu Men - Gate of the Meridian or also known as the Gate of the Mid-day, today the southernmost Gate of the Palace Museum.
This page was last updated on: June 23, 2017
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A little over two years after the succesful Xinhai Revolution which forced the abdication of the last Qing Emperor Xuantong in january of 1912, Yuan Shikai the "traitor general" had elbowed Dr. Sun Yat-Sen out of the way and was to assume the Presidency of the Republic of China. Before October the 10th of 1913 the day he formally took office as President, Yuan Shikai had the name plaques of all the Gates and Halls in the Inner Court remade, eliminating the Manchu inscriptions of the previous Qing Dynasty.
Name Boards of the Outer Court were replaced previous to Oct 10, 1913 , omitting the previous Manchu Language of the abdicated Qing. Photos: 1) Left (West) Hind Gate, 2) Right (East) Hind Gate of Good Fortune.
remained untouched, as at this time, the abidacted Qing Emperor and his court still resided there under the "Five Articles of Favorable Treatment" agreed upon at the abdication.
When the "Forbidden City" was converted into the Palace Museum in 1925 AD, the year after the deposed Qing Emperor Pu Yi and his household were driven out by the troops of General Feng Yuxian, it was decided to leave the plaques in the Inner Court as they were, bearing inscriptions in both the Manchu and the Chinese languages.
The "Qianlong Garden" has four courtyards, and tow axial lines pass through it. These axial lines are the southern and northern axial lines, which function to balance the geomantric design (Feng Shui) of the Garden.
The Gate of Lasting Happiness (Yan Qi Men), Pavilion of Ancient Glory (Gu Hua Xian), the Hall of Nostalgia (Sui Chu Tang) and the Pavilion of Paramount Elegance Song Xiu Ting) all stand along the Southern Axis of
The Famous Pavilion of Bestowing Wine (Xi Shang Ting) in the Palace Garden of Peaceful Old Age (Ning Shou Gong Hua Yuan) a.k.a. the "Qianlong Garden".
the Garden. The Pavilion of Excellent Views (Cui Shang Lou), the Green Shell Pavilion (Bi Luo Ting) and the Tower of Elusive Dreams (Fu Wang Ge) are situated on the northern axis of the garden.
Altogether, the modest space of the Qianlong Garden counts over 20 pavilions, towers and other structures, as well as green pine and cypress trees, delicate rockeries and winding pathways, creating a gem and high-point of traditional Chinese Garden architecture.
Another example is the Palace of Established Happiness (Jian Fu Gong) which balances the Palace of Peaceful Longevity on the western side of the Central Axis. Situated due west and alongside of the "Six Western Palaces" this Palace has a fairly large garden, the Garden of Established Happiness (Jian Fu Gong Hua Ya) on its northern end. In the south of the garden stands the "Rainflower Pavilion (Yu Hua Ge)" whereas in the north stands another pavilion of undidentified name. Next to this Palace, on its western side is an even larger Palace which also has its own gardens. This is the Palace of Tranquil Old Age (Shou An Gong). Unfortunatly, at this time the Palace of Established Happiness with its partially ruined garden and the adjacent Palace of Tranquil Old Age (Shou An Gong) are not open to the general public visiting.
In the Forbidden City there are countless Gates, and entrances of all sizes.Every gate and hall entrance has one to five openings, their number always odd and never even. The opening of each gate has two panels (doors), usually painted in vermillion, and a treshold generally made out of a solid piece of wood attached with dove-tails to the main structure of the gate. This treshold is a characteristic of ancient Chinese Architecture and is an obligatory feuture of such a traditional structure.
As you will notice upon carefull inspection, many thresholds within the inner court have been cut, severed at both ends so that it may be removed using the heavy iron rings which can be seen attached in such a case. The Iron Rings proved to be a necessity, as without them, the heavy thresholds (footboards) were too heavy to lift and carry for even two persons.
In addition to the iron rings there are iron clamps attached to the thick board either at the middle or at the two ends of the board, and this on both sides, so that when the gate is shut, the two panels of the door and the threshold could be clamped and locked together in order to ensure greater structural strength and therefor security.
There are pairs of marble stands behind some gates intended for holding the threholds when removed from the doorways. These stands are 40 to 60 centimeters high and simply adorned with the swirling cloud motif familiar from other places in the Forbidden City engraved at the base only. Some of the tresholds are sheathed with copper for protection.
As far as it is known, in the more than 400 years of the rule of the Ming Dynasty and its sucessor the Qing Dynasty, all thresholds of all Palace Gates were fixed and severing them from door frames was strictly forbidden. It was not until the years of the first Republic of China, after the abdication of the Qing Emperor Xuan Tong, the boy Pu Yi, that some of them were sawn through. In 1919 AD, after an Scottsman working for the British Colonial Empire was accepted as the "English Tutor" of the young former Emperor, new winds had started purveying the Halls and walkways of the Palace.
Many changes occured bringing the two, Johnston and Pu Yi, closer and closer together.
At some later time, Pu Yi was introduced to the bicycle, and duely amazed and pleased he ordered several bicycles of foreign brand for himself and the Empress Wan Rong.
To be able to cycle unobstructed from one courtyard to another, Pu Yi ordered the eunuchs to cut some of the thresholds (footboards) at both ends and wooden ramps were built to deal with the stairs leading up tome of the larger gates.
Through the ingenious method of attachment, the tresholds could then be removed at wish, so that the Emperor may enjoy his bicycle rides through the Inner Court of his Palace.
In the fashion, the thresholds leading to Last Emperor Xuan Tong's private residential Palace, the Palace of Mental Cultivation (Yang Xin Dian) were also removed, as were the tresholds to all the other outer courtyards of each of the Palaces in the West and in the East (The so-called "Six Western Palaces" and "Six Eastern Palaces").
Although, almost naturally, Pu Yi had been severly reprimanded by the Empress-Dowager Longyu, the main regent of the Throne, the damage had been done, and at any rate, the Old Empress-Dowager had to humor the young Pu Yi, as without him their would be no court or throne to be regent of. The Ladies of Court made do with an unpleasant situation.
NAME BOARDS AND PLAQUETTES:
Gates and Buildings throughout the Imperial Palace have always carried their own name signs, as was found an aspaucious custom in China. Each pavilion, each Hall, each side-hall and each Gate therefor carry a large wooden board, or when the structure is smaller insize and of lesser importance, a plaquette with inscription.
During the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD) the name signs within the Palace were all in Han Chinese, as the Ming were native Chinese rulers of Han ethnic origin. During the succeeding Qing Dynasty (1644 AD - 1911 AD), parts of the Palace that were burned down during the turbulent year 1644, during the regime changes, were rebuilt and for the occassion of the declaration of the founding of the new Qing Dynasty by the victorious Manchu's, all the name boards and plaquettes were replaced. During the entire succeding rule of the Manchu Qing the name boards were then written in both Manchu and Han Chinese languages, with Manchu in the honorable position of the left of the board, and Chinese language in the secondary right position. A few signs also carried the Mongolian script.
SCREEN WALLS AND CERAMIC SCREEN WALLS:
Ordinary Screen Walls:
Ceramic Screen Walls:
To Find all information about the largest ceramic screen wall in the Palace - click through to: