Altogether this couryard has six Gates, of which the West Gate of Harmony is considered but a lesser one, as is the opposite East Gate of Harmony (Dong He Men). There are three gates on the northern end of the courtyard, whereas all other sides count but one Gate.
Directions to the West Gate of Harmony (Xi He Men) - How to Get There :
Architecture of the East Gate of Harmony (Xi He Men):
The architecture of the West Gate of Harmony goes unmentioned in most if not all guides to the Palace Museum, and for unclear reasons even the official audio tour does not spend words on it.
What can be said is that the West Gate of Harmony is identical to its Eastern counterpart, as prescribed by the Feng Shui (Chinese Geomancy) inspired design of the entire Palace and surrounding city.
The Gate, as are all the buildings along the flanks of this courtyard
History of the West Gate of Harmony (Xi He Men):
As mentioned, the West Gate of Harmony goes virtually undescribed and unmentioned other than that it was the eastern outermost Gate of the earliest Imperial Residence of the Ming Emperor Zu Di (Yongle) immediatly after the inauguration of the Palace in 1420/1421 AD.
What however is duely noted is that in the office building immediatly due to the north, the office for translators was housed. In this place the ooficial editcs, laws and other important communications from the Emperor were translated from Manchu into Han Chinese, after which it could de dispersed among the public and to the Provinces for reading and implementation.
In the year 1650 AD, at the very beginning of the Qing Dynasty this was the location where "Water Margin" (known in Chinese as Shuihu Zhuan), by now one of the four most famous Chinese literary classics, was
Interior of the West Gate of Harmony of the southernmost central courtyard of the Outer Court. Beyond a view of the white marble balustrades set along the Golden River Stream, the Five Golden River Bridges and behind them the opposite Gate, the East Gate of Harmony. On the left a glimpse of the Gate of the Meridian, the ultimate south gate of the Palace Museum proper.
The West Gate of Harmony is also known as the Gate of Prosperous Harmony and sometimes named Gate of Amiability (愛嬌門). Its counterpart is the gate of Unified Harmony in the east of the same court.
Large and conspicuous as it is, the West Gate of Harmony dwindles in comparison to its much larger and more imposing neighbor to the south as well as the highly decorated and intricately designed Gate of Supreme Harmony to to the North. As if that was not enough, the courtyard is designed so as to draw the eyes attention
Partial view of the East Gate of Harmony of the southernmost central court showing its yellow glazed tile roof, upturned eaves and "hexi" decorations along its upper beams and roof supports. Symbolic ceramic animals lining the roof complete the traditional Ming Style architecture of the Gate.
As a result, not many tales, legends or important events can be recounted about the Western Gate of Harmony nor of its Eastern counterpart.
The most interesting aspect that can be told of this Gate is that, at the very early beginning of the Imperial Palace in 1420 AD of the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD), it was the outer gate of the Yongle Emperors (Reign: 17 July 1402 AD – 12 August 1424 AD) private Palace and personal residence. He is still regarded as one of the most influential and most powerful Emperors of all ages, and should be regarded an infamous Man. Due to his usurpation of the Throne he is hardly remembered lovingly although he is certainly admired for his considerable achievements, among which the conception,
creation and construction of this very Palace and the city beyond.
Other than this, the West Gate of Harmony seems to go unmentioned in current guides to the Palace or in historic sources or books on the subject.
The East Gate of Harmony as visible from in front (and south) of the Hall and Gate of Military Spirit, the earliest residential Palace of Zhu Di, the Ming Emperor Yongle who was responsible for much of the design of the old city of Beijing as well as numerous other impressive deeds. The east to west causeway which cuts through the outer court passes in front of the Hall of Military Spirit and leads away to the central court via Xi He Men.
View westward from the East Gate of Harmony along the east-west causeway of the Inner Court. The Gate of Military Spirit (Wu Ying Men) is hidden behind green. In the distance loomes the high tower of the West Flowery Gate (Xi Hua Men), one of the outermost gates of the Palace Museum and since recently in 2011 an official entrance.
The Official schematic Map of The Forbidden City, by The Palace Museum.
The West Gate of Harmony is fairly easy to reach when one goes for a visit to the Palace Museum. Previously there was only one viable route to its location, however with rearrangements of Palace Museum
procedures and opening of several previously unavailable sections of the Palace Museum additional routes to its location have become available.
THE TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN ROUTE:
The traditional route to the West Gate of Harmony within the outer court follows the central axis of the Palace Museum and the city, which in this case of coming through the south, means traveling through the south gate of the Palace Museum, the Gate of the Meridian (Wu Men).
Buy a ticket and pass through the Gate of the Meridian to reach the southernmost central courtyard of the Palace and the Outer Court. From there, one need only stroll across the large courtyard to the west flank where the West Gate of Harmony has its location.
In 2011 new sections of the Palace Museum were opened to the public and along with them arrangements for entering the Palace Museum were changed. No longer must one choose between the north and the south gates, now visitors are also
As a result of these changes, one can now also hike up to the West Gate of Harmony by starting off at the at West Flowery Gate (Xi Hua Men) which sits across the East Gate of the interesting but reclusive ZhongNanhai (South middle lake) Complex where the National Leadership and their families reside. This route is slightly longer than the southern route but it could be an interesting walk. Traditionally
View of the Western Gate of Harmony in the Outer Court from the western causeway.
Zhongnanhai was connected to the "Forbidden City" proper by means of this wide western causeway, which lead from the West Gate of Harmony and through the West Flowery Gate to connect to what was then a complex of most lavish gardens and yet more Imperial Palaces. Although officially the reigning Palaces of the Empress-Dowager Cixi were situated in the Inner Court (Nei Ting) of the "Forbidden City" she had a large Palace at Zhongnanhai where she spent a considerable amount of time as can be judged from the Opera Theatre that was built near its southern main gate (Now Gate of New China - Xinhua Men). The Palace was later occupied by Mao Zedong after the establishment of the Peoples Republic of China. Ever since, the Gate opposite of the West Flowery Gate has been heavily surveilled and guarded. All is done quite discretely, yet ...
THE EASTERN ROUTE:
The Eastern Route to the West Gate of Harmony is unnecessarily long and goes unrecommended for this reason, however it should be mentioned.
Since 2011 visitors are allowed to enter the Palace Museum from the East and West, with as a result that the West Gate of Harmony can also be reached by passing through the East Flowery Gate and following the east-to-west causeway of the Outer Court from there to the West Gate of Harmony. The route then would be as follows: Go the East Flowery Gate, walk from there westward to pass along the Gate of Literary Flowers (Wen Hua Men) and through the East Gate of Harmony to the southernmost central courtyard of the Outer Court (Wai Chou). As described from there it is just a walk across the courtyard to the west side and the West Gate of Harmony.
This certainly is an interesting walk though.
View of a part of the West Gate of Harmony from across the golden river stream showing the white marble balustraded platform this gate is raised upon. The golden river stream passes underneath the surrounding enclosure wall and buildings just adjacent and north of the Gate.
are raised atop a tall gray-brick platform. A wide ramp, delineated by white marble balustrades leads up to it on both the east- and the west-sides. The balustrades are carved with cloud designs.
The Gate itself is some five "bays" wide and has three openings, separated from each other by two thick red painted wooden supporting beams. Two massive wooden doors, pierced by the ritual nine times nine golden yellow studs, close each of the three openings.
Atop the Gate is a yellow glaze tiled roof, with upturned eaves and supported by massive wooden cross beams which are decorated with the usual "hexi" painted decorations. The roof is lined with five mythical animals signifying its but mediocre rank among all the structures of the Palace. Two large ceramic dragons, one on the rooftop corner and one where the eaves are bent sideways complete the simple but elegant design.
On the outside (west) of the West Gate of Harmony a red wall leads way in the the directions north and south.
On the immediate north side of the Gate, the white marbled and balustraded artificial stream dubbed the "golden river" can be seen approaching the Gate from the north-west and entering a sluice gate situated underneath the west side of the Gate and the wall extending from it. From here, the golden stream
The golden river stream approaching the West Gate of Harmony from the north-west after passing in front of the Gate of Military Spirit (Eminence) and bending northward around the Hall of Military Spirit.
Sluice gate of the golden river stream underneath the West Gate of Harmony.
passes underneath the wall to enter the southernmost central courtyard of the Palace where, together with the five "golden river bridges" leading across, it is the main visual feature available.
The river has an interesting role in the balancing of the geomantic features of the "Forbidden City" and its presence in the south of the Palace completes the traditional design of the Palace.
Several directions lead way from the West Gate of Harmony.
To the south a dead and road extends towards the southern outer wall of the Palace and its gray bricks can clearly be seen from the West Gate of Harmony.
At a few paces walking west of the West gate of Harmony a road turns northward but is blocked with a barrier. This part of the Palace is reserved for the staff and its purposes so far.
On the east side of the West Gate of Harmony lies the southernmost central court of the Palace Museum giving further access to all directions and all structures of the Palace.
The back walls of the buildings of the southernmost central court lead away southward from the West Gate of Harmony. Beyond the 10 meter high outer wall of the Palace can be seen and visited for a close up inspection.
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Do not forget to visit the Hall of Military Eminence due West of the West Gate of Harmony and/or visit the Collection of Paintings of Emperors, Empresses and Officials at the Hall of South Fragrance.
translated from Han Chinese into the Manchu language, so that it may be read and checked for political content.
The book the Water Margin is a book written in the 14th century and set in those times, the times of the Song Dynasty that ruled southern China. A tale of 108 so called "outlaws" who gather upon the lonely mountain Liang to form an army and resist the ruling Government, the book is also known as also known under the titles of "Outlaws of the Marsh", "Tale of the Marshes", "All Men Are Brothers", "Men of the Marshes", or The Marshes of Mount Liang.
Although the Heroes of the Tale rise against the Government, along the way they reconcile and henceforth serve the Emperor in his quest against foreign invaders and rebels other than themselves, hence it was not deemed a tale of revolutionaries per se. Due to its features of common comradery, equality however, it was officially
To the south of the West Gate of Harmony stands the office which was reserved for the officials in charge of noting down and registering every word spoken at the meetings of the Emperor and Officials and every taken or ordered by the Emperor. At the end of each year, these notes were compiled and sent to the Royal Cabinet (the high officials and ministers) after which official copies were enclosed within the Royal Archives in a ceremony performed by the Ministers themselves.
Ever since this time until the end of the inhabitation of the Palace (and actually some time beyond) the West Gate of Prosperous Harmony was one of the connecting Gates to this large western extension of the Palace. The connection was cut at a later time, after 1912, when the Zhongnanhai Complex became the residence of the "Traitor General" turned President of the 1st Republic, Yuan Shikai, and today one has to go across BeiChang Road to reach the Eastern Gate leading into Zhongnanhai.
The northern road of the Western Outer Court is situated east of the Hall of Military Spirit. From here it leads over a bridge spanning the "Golden River" and terminating at the south wall of the "Western Outer Palaces" of the Inner Court.
endorsed by the Chinese Communist Party as an example of early socialist tendencies in society and is therefor often marketed under the title: "All Men are Brothers".