Forbidden City
Hall of Supreme Harmony

The Forbidden City, Beijing, China

The Hall of Supreme Harmony, part 1
太和殿 (1)

After passing the Gate of Supreme Harmony (TaiHeMen), you will see the Hall of Supreme Harmony (TaiHeDian) across another spacious courtyard which covers a space of 30,000 square meters - the biggest courtyard in the Forbidden City.


A view of the Hall of Supreme Harmony from the
Gate of Supreme Harmony.

Sitting on a seven meter high, three-tier marble terrace, the grandest timber framework building ever in China will overwhelm anyone.


The Hall of Supreme Harmony (TaiHeDian).

The hall was first built in 1406 and later repaired many times. As the heart of the Forbidden City, the so-called 'Golden Carriage Palace', used to be the place where emperors received high officials and practiced their rule over the nation. Also, grand ceremonies would be held to celebrate a new emperor's ascending to the throne, emperors' birthdays and wedding ceremonies and other important occasions such as the Winter Solstice, the Chinese New Year and dispatching generals to war.


Side view from on top of the terrace.

Because the Hall of Supreme Harmony was a symbol of imperial power, it was the highest structure in the nation during the Ming and Qing dynasties - no other building was allowed to be higher than it. The heavily glazed hall is 35.02 meters high (37.44 meters if rooftop decorations are counted), 63.96 meters in width and 37.2 meters in length.


The emperor would arrive at the Hall of Supreme Harmony amidst ceremonial music, drum-beating and firecrackers. He would them take his place on the throne and listen to a reading of congratulatory messages from his palace courtiers. Civil and military officials would all kneel before him proclaiming : "Long Live Your Majesty".

There are in total 72 pillars standing in six rows to support the roof. Each of the pillars supporting the hall was made from a single piece of wood, about 18 metres high.



Along the three-tier marble terrace stairs, there are 18 bronze Dings, a type of ancient chinese vessel, to represent the 18 provinces of the nation (as was then).

On the terrace, which is luxuriously balustraded, a bronze crane and a bronze tortoise can be seen.



They were placed there to expect everlasting rule and longevity. The marble Rigui (sundial), in the east and the JiaLiang (an ancient measuring vessel) in the west were placed there to show that the emperors were just and fair.


In front of the hall, there are a couple of gilded bronze vats, which were used to hold water in case of fire. A fire could be lit under the vat in winter to stop the water from freezing. There are 308 vats in total in the Forbidden City.


It took 136 days to bake the floor tiles before they were immersed in tung oil for another 49 days and then polished; not only to look beautiful, but also to sound nice when walked upon.

The doors and windows are decorated with brass panels embossed with designs of dragons playing in the clouds.



Next : The Hall of Supreme Harmony, part 2

Forbidden City

Forbidden City
: Introduction
Forbidden City : History
Forbidden City : Layout
Forbidden City : Map
Getting there

The Meridian Gate (outside)
The Meridian Gate (inside)
The First Courtyard
The Gate of Supreme Harmony

The Second Courtyard
The Hall of Supreme Harmony (part 1)
The Hall of Supreme Harmony (part 2)
The Hall of Complete Harmony
The Hall of Preserving Harmony

The Large Stone Carving

The Gate of Celestial Purity
The Hall of Celestial Purity
The Hall of Celestial and Terrestrial Union
The Hall of Terrestrial Tranquility
The Imperial Garden
The Imperial Garden (part 2)

The Exhibition Halls
The 9 Dragon Screen
Other Places of Interest

Doorways (part 2)
Decorative Tiles
Beams and Ceilings
Windows and Doors
Walls & Screens

Sunset at the Forbidden City

Beijing Guide

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