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Chinese Architecture in Beijing. Forms and designs. Chinese architectureof The Ming dynasty uses bright colors, painting detailed scenes, roof tiles, roof guardians, and many marble fence posts. It looks very different than western architecture. Power is shown by space not height.

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Chinese architectureof The Ming dynasty uses bright colors, painting detailed scenes, roof tiles, roof guardians, and many marble fence posts. It looks very different than western architecture. Power is shown by space not height.


In China, the Forbidden City was considered to be the center of the world. The Emperor was to be at the center of the cosmos,so the main axis of the city is North-South. The Hall of Supreme Harmony at the center of the city is where the Emperor held audiences.After entering the city you passed through several halls and courtyards on your way to this audience. It was meant to make you feel small.


From this view of the Forbidden City you can see the North-South axis and the way that Feng Shui was used to design it. It must have a mountain at the back so they built an artificial one called Coal Hill. It was surrounded by a moat which was the necessary water feature for an auspicious location. It is in concentric circles within a square which represents heaven and earth.


Each gate is narrow which contrasts with the large squares surrounding all gates. Together the depth and width of the space creates a sense of mystery and a regal attitude.


The Forbidden City was designed to be both beautiful and impressive. Its golden yellow roof tiles made it stand out from all other buildings in the area.Although it covers huge areas, it maintains harmony because of how it was designed.


Nine is a lucky number in China so the Emperor will have 9 roof guardians The color of a roof reflects the social status of the people living inside. Yellow was reserved only for the Imperial family.Princes can only use green while ordinary people use grey roof tiles. Any Imperial door will have 9 studs in each direction.

summer palace
Summer Palace
  • Golden Roof Tiles for an Imperial Residence.

The dragon is associated with the Emperor and is used extensively in the Forbidden City as a decorative element. These dragons serve as downspouts to move water away from the hall to protect it. They are the embodiment of imperial power but also serve a practical purpose.


Inside the Hall of Supreme Harmony there are 66 great columns. The throne has dragon decorations as does the screen behind it. The cross beams have dragons in yellow decorating them. The Emperor’s cloak had dragons woven into it. Altogether there are 12,654 dragons in this room. A multiple of the auspicious number 9.


All buildings must have water in front of them and mountains at the back pointing to the sun. In this case the water also served the practical feature of protecting wooden structures in case of fire.The large pots are found all over the Forbidden City.


The Temple of Heaven is where the Emperor made sacrifices to assure bountiful harvests . China was an agricultural society so the importance of this sacrifice was shown by the emperor himself offering it up to the heavens.The hall itself is high and is a symbol for the heavens. All carvings inside are of clouds.


Lamma Temple was built by the Ming Emperor’s as a home away from home for the Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism. When he visited Beijing, he lived here.


The Badaling section of the Great Wall is one of the more easily reached from Beijing but its also very steep. It crosses a critical pass that protects Beijing. The guard towers used dried wolf dung to burn to announce invaders were coming. The amount they burned told how many soldiers were coming through the pass. This gate is an entrance to the wall itself.


Prince Gong was an imperial official who was executed for his “ extravagance “ . His real crime was in building a stone boat which angered the Emperor and led to his execution. The former palace at Beijing University shows his taste but this was his palace. Today it is a teahouse.