Why is it called the Forbidden City?

The Forbidden City definition in Chinese is “Zi Jin Cheng”, literally “purple forbidden city”or “forbidden purple city”. The Forbidden City was given its name because it was forbidden to common people, even junior ministers in ancient times and the “purple” stands for auspice, honor and highest status. 

The imperial palace is forbidden to common people.

Why is the Forbidden City forbidden? Since it was the home and office of the honorable and respectable emperors who titled themselves the son of the God Jade Emperor, the God who charges the whole world in Chinese mythology, the common people and junior officers were forbidden to enter or even get close to. This is a good way to project an imperial and august image of the emperors, protect the member of the royal families living inside and keep state secrets, thus help the emperors to keep the domination of the country.

Why is it “purple” Forbidden City, not other colors?

The main color of the Forbidden Palace is yellow and red, but why is it called Purple Forbidden City, not Yellow Forbidden City or Red Forbidden City? This is related to Chinese traditional culture.

Purple stands for auspice and honor in Chinese culture.

It is related to a literary quotation in “Records of the Historian”. In the legend, one day, the soldier who guarded the Hangu Pass found that there was a piece of purple cloud coming from the east, and later Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism and famous philosopher in ancient China who wrote the Dao De Jing, the work of Taoism, was riding a cow to Hangu Pass. The soldier knew that he was a saint. From then on, the color purple has been considered to the sign of auspice, representing the emergence of sages, emperors and treasures.

The palace where the Jade Emperor lives is called Zi Palace, so his son’s.

The place where the Jade Emperor lives in the heaven is called Zi Palace which means Purple Palace. And the emperors at that time self-proclaimed that they were the sons of the Jade Emperor, and they thought they were the dominator chosen by the Jade Emperor on the earth, so they called the palace they lived on the earth as the Zi palace, too. They hoped that they would live in this Zi palace to conquer the country and their state can be permanently stabilized to maintain their long-term domination.

In Chinese astrology, Zi Wei star cite has the highest status, like ancient emperors.

In ancient China, the trajectory and position of the stars were always seen as the symbol and prophecy of the people’s destiny and their rise and fall in life. The ancient astrological officers, take the Arctic as the center, divided the stars in the sky into three regions, which is called the three cites, namely Tianshi, Taiwei, and Ziwei cites. Zi Wei is in the middle and contains 15 stars. Intermediate and middle position was considered honorable and auspicious. So people added Zi which stands for Ziwei cite into the name of the royal palace to show the highest status of the emperors.

Forbidden City is not forbidden anymore.

In 1925, the Palace Museum was established on the original site of Forbidden City and officially opened to the public. Since then, ordinary people have been allowed to enter and had a visit.

 See more

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- Last updated on Jun. 08, 2020 -
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