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A Sense of Mystery
It has been compared to a set of intricately carved Chinese workboxes: within each opened box lies another, similar but smaller. Even today, When the Forbidden City is open to Western eyes, it retains a sense of mystery. Just as it is impossible to know exactly what may be hidden within a given box, so, many of the secrets of Beijing’s stately palace complex may never be revealed.
A great ruler named Yung La ruled from 1403 to 1423 when he had expelled Mongols from Beijing. He was the third Ming emperor. The building of the Forbidden City was started by him. An estimated workforce of 100000 craftsmen and a million labourers set to work, fashioning the city’s 800 palaces, 75 halls, numerous temples, pavilions, libraries and studios, all linked by gardens, courtyards and pathways. This city from its inception was forbidden to outsiders. In this city, Qing dynasties and 24 emperors of the Ming and reigned, shielded behind a moat and a wall which was of 35 ft height — until the Republican revolution began in 1911.
This city is undoubtedly a masterpiece in the field of architecture. Its beauty is not because of any single building it is due to the exquisite combination of the nice orderly layout. of colours used in its decoration. Altogether, it reflects the Chinese view that the emperor as the Son of Heaven, was the mediator responsible for order and harmony on Earth.
The formal entrance to the city is the Meridian Gate, where a drum and bell were sounded whenever an emperor passed by. The vast courtyard beyond the gate contains a section of the Golden River. Shaped like an archer’s bow and spanned by. five marble bridges, it leads to the Gate of Supreme Harmony — deemed centre of the Chinese world. In this splendid chamber, the emperor presided the Dragon Throne and grand ceremonies were held on festive occasions. Behind it stands the Hall of Complete Harmony, where the emperor prepared for audiences with envoys from abroad. There was not even a single emperor who wished to have stepped out from this city if it could be avoided. He entertained visitors in the most I northerly of the three state imperial buildings, the Hall of Preserving Harmony.
To the north side of these halls and the repetition of their layout if a group of these palaces which have imperial residential quarters. Two of these. the Place of Heavenly Purity and the Place of Earthly Tranquility, were the residences of the emperor and empress respectively. Between them lies the Hall of Union, Symbolically uniting the emperor and empress. Heaven and Earth, yang and yin, male and female. Beyond the palaces lie the imperial gardens, where pools, rockeries, temples, libraries, theatres, pavilions and pine and cypress tree complement the symmetry of the buildings.
On the basis of your reading of the passage answer the following questions.
(a) By whom was the Forbidden City build and in what period did he rule?
(b) Briefly describe the Forbidden City.
(c) What Chinese view does the Forbidden City reflect?
(d) Where were festive ceremonies held and where were foreign envoys entertained by the Chinese emperor?
(e) Describe the imperial residential quarters.
(f) What is the symbolic significance of the Hall of Union?
(g) What did the drum and bell signify?
(h) What is Heavenly Purity
(a)The Forbidden City was built by 3rd Ming emperor who lived between 1403- 1423
(b) It was built by 100000 craftsmen and a million labourers. It had 800 palaces, 75 halls numerous temples and libraries.
(c) It reflects the Chinese view that the emperor as the son of Heaven.
(d) Gate of supreme harmony, Hall of complete harmony.
(e) North of the halls and repeating their layout is a group of three palaces which comprise the imperial residential quarters.
(f) The symbolic significance of the hall of the union is the emperor and empress, heaven and earth, yang and yin, male and female.
(g) Drum and bell used to signify the passing by of the emperor.
(h) Heavenly Purity is the piousness of soul which is suggested by the Holy Scriptures.