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The Temple of Heaven, literally the Altar of Heaven, is a complex of religious buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. It has been regarded as a Taoist temple, although Chinese Heaven worship, especially by the reigning monarch of the day, pre-dates Taoism.
Excerpts - Wikipedia
(Online Jan. 2014)
The temple complex was constructed from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, who was also responsible for the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The complex was extended and renamed Temple of Heaven during the reign of the Jiajing Emperor in the 16th century.
The surroundings of the Temple of Heaven are now a very popular park for exercising.
In ancient China, the Emperor of China was regarded as the Son of Heaven, who administered earthly matters on behalf of, and representing, heavenly authority. To be seen to be showing respect to the source of his authority, in the form of sacrifices to heaven, was extremely important. The temple was built for these ceremonies, mostly comprising prayers for good harvests.
Twice a year the Emperor and all his retinue would move from the Forbidden City through Beijing to encamp within the complex, wearing special robes and abstaining from eating meat. No ordinary Chinese was allowed to view this procession or the following ceremony. In the temple complex the Emperor would personally pray to Heaven for good harvests. The highpoint of the ceremony at the winter solstice was performed by the Emperor on the Earthly Mount. The ceremony had to be perfectly completed; it was widely held that the smallest of mistakes would constitute a bad omen for the whole nation in the coming year.
Museum photo on display in Dec. 2014.
Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests - where the Emperor prayed and made sacrifices for good harvests.
Circular building with round roof and three layers of eaves built on three levels of marble stone base. Completely wooden, with no nails.
Marble stone base.
Group photo of school field trip.
All the buildings within the Temple have special dark blue roof tiles, representing the Heaven.
Note first story. Details over entrance below:
Dragons and phoenixes - symbolizing the emperor and empress.
Dragons and phoenixes
Museum photo on display in Dec. 2014.
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests has four inner, twelve middle and twelve outer pillars, representing the four seasons, twelve months and twelve traditional Chinese hours respectively. Combined together, the twelve middle and twelve outer pillars represent the traditional solar term.
Lotus flower motif.
On the grounds, there were stables for sacrificial animals.
Within the complex there are a total of 92 ancient buildings with 600 rooms. It is the most complete existing imperial sacrificial building complex in China and the world's largest existing building complex for offering sacrifice to heaven.
The surrounding park is quite extensive, with the entire complex totaling 660 acres. Some of it consists of playgrounds, exercise and game areas. These facilities are well used by adults, as well as by parents and grandparents bringing children to play. Some of the open spaces and side buildings are often used, particularly in the morning, for choral shows, ethnic dances, and other presentations.Note green tiles (detail below:)
Tile ends feature dragons.
The surrounding park is quite extensive, with the entire complex totaling 660 acres. Some of it consists of playgrounds, exercise and game areas. These facilities are well used by adults, as well as by parents and grandparents bringing children to play. Some of the open spaces and side buildings are often used, particularly in the morning, for choral shows, ethnic dances, and other presentations.
Painted crossbeams. Cf., the Summer Palace painted crossbeams.
There are over 60,000 varieties of trees on the site. This one is a cypress.
Photos and their arrangement © 2013 Chuck and Nancy LaChiusa