Hall of Central Harmony (Zhonghedian)
|Hall of Central Harmony Photos|
Built in 1420, the eighteenth year of the reign of Emperor Yongle (1403-1424), the Hall of Central Harmony was named "Huagaidian" at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). In the reign of Emperor Jiajing (1522-1566), it was fired and renamed "Zhongjidian" after reconstruction. The ink marks of the three Chinese characters (Zhong Ji Dian) can still be seen. The Qing imperial household came to live in the Forbidden City in the first year of the reign of Emperor Shunzhi (1644-1661), and called it "Zhonghedian" instead of "Zhongjidian" the next year. The two Chinese characters, "zhong" and "he", imply that each party can be satisfied only if they are treated without any bias, promoting "the golden mean" of Confucius. Having undergone three fires, the present takes on the look of what it was after reconstruction in 1627, the seventh year of Emperor Tianqi (1621-1627) of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
|Inside the Hall|
Inside the Hall of Central Harmony, visitors can see a pair of golden unicorns standing on each side of the throne in the center. Called "luduan" in Chinese, the unicorns were imagined mythological animals and believed to be multilingual and capable of traveling 5592.34 miles (9,000 kilometers) in a single day. Therefore, gargoyles of these mythical beasts, which served as sandalwood burners, were put around the throne as a symbol of the great wisdom and intelligence of the emperor. On the flat ground stand bronze incense burners used to make fire to keep warm. Beside the throne are two sedan chairs used to shuttle the emperor around the Forbidden City. There were rigid regulations concerning the occasion and the kind of sedan chair the emperor should take.
Go north to visit the Hall of Preserved Harmony (Baohedian).
Further Reading: Virtual Guide of Forbidden City