This week's blog is in two parts. Part I features the Forbidden City with many pix of Palace Museum treasures and a few palace ladies.For my Chinese friends, Mandarin will be in bold.
At noon on Friday, I met Li and Emily at the west gate. Shang zhou wu zhongwu, wo yu jianle Li he Emily zai ximen. Where we parked our bicycles is close to the subway station. Women tingfang zixingche. Ta li ditiezhan hen jin.
We take #4 line to Fuxingmen Station. Women zuo #4 haoxian qu Fuxingmen zhan. And then transfer to #1 line. Ranhou women huan #1 haoxian. After two stops, we arrive at Tian'anmen East. Liangge zhan yihou, women daole Tian'anmen Dong zhan.
The Forbidden City, Zijin Cheng, (built 1406-1420) is rectangualr in shape and oriented on a north/south axis, surrounded by high walls and a most, the FC is the world's largest palace complex. Factoids: 960m (3150-feet) NtoS, 750m (2460-feet) EtoW, 720,000-square meters (2,362,204-square feet or 447-square miles); the moat is 6m (20-feet) deep, 52m (170-feet) wide; the outer wall is 10m (33-feet) high and 3400m (11,150-feet or 7-miles) long. Inside there are 5 halls, 17 palaces, 9,999 rooms, nine being a lucky number for the emperor.
I'm telling you all this to help you appreciate that we walked approximately 5610m or 3.5 miles within the FC complex, add on to that another .5 to .75 to and from the subway on both ends. So totally we walked at least 4 miles that day! Women wanquan zouliao 4 yingli di na yitian!
The southern section contains the 'outer court' QianChao with five ceremonial halls. The northern section contains the 'inner court' HouQin where the emperor lived and worked with his concubines, eunuchs and servants. The buildings have beautiful glazed tile roofs. The roof ridges are now protected by lightning rods. At the roof corners, small figures protect the building: immortal riding a phoenix followed by a dragon, phoenix, lion, horse, sea horse, a number of mythical creatures and a LiWen at the top end.
First, we visited the Porcelain collection in the Imperial Garden, YuHuaYuan, and then we wanted to see the big jade. Women xian canguanle huangjia yuanlin. Ta shi porcelaine shouji. Ranhou women yao kan dao de dayu.
The Song Dynasty was a period of unrivaled development of arts. Many rare and precious specimens of all dynasties are displayed and protected at the national Palace Museum as China's cultural heritage and proof of legitimacy for rulers of all ages, proof of ownership of the symbols of China are equivalent to proof of embodiment of China.
An example of the rareness of some of the great Chinese antiquities to be found here is the 'Ruware' from Henan province. The location of the site of the kilns is near modern Baofeng Qingliangsi and was recently identified in 1986. Luxury crafts patronized by the nearby court at Kaifeng stimulated the emergence of several technologically innovative kiln manufacturers. Ruware is most highly prized in later times because of the relatively short period of production. Only operational over a 40-year period, the kiln ceased production with the 'disaster of 1126.' Fewer than 100 complete pieces are know to exist today.
'Yu the Great Taming the Waters' 1787ce Qing Dynasty, is the largest carved jade in existence. The original boulder was 2.24m (7-feet) high and 5330kg (11,726-pounds or 5.6 tons) and was discovered in the western area near Khotan.
Khotan was an ancient Buddhist city on the Silk Road near the Taklamakan Desert. Built on an oasis, its mulberry trees produced silk for export as well as nephrite jade. Legend is that a Chinese princess brought silkworm eggs in her elaborate hairdo when she was sent to marry a Khotanese king. Khotan was the first place outside China to cultivate silk.
It took 3 years to transport the big jade to Beijing on a wagon drawn by 100 horses and requiring 1,000 laborors for road and bridge construction. The jade boulder and two full-size wax and wooden models, approved by the Emperor in 1781, were sent by boat south to Yangzhou where specialized jade craftsmen took almost 8 years to complete, 150,000 working days, and returned to the palace in Beijing in 1787.
Hui tou jian