Forbidden City
Nine Dragon Screen

The Forbidden City, Beijing, China

The Nine Dragon Screen

Facing the Gate of Imperial Supremacy is the famous Nine Dragon Screen, the biggest in China.

It was built in 1771 during the reign of Qing Emperor QianLong.

Until recently, there were altogether three Nine Dragon Screens in China. The oldest one is located in Datong city, Shanxi Province; it was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The third was built in Beihai Park during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), which is within walking distance from the Forbidden City. The one in Beihai is unique in having dragons on both sides.

The most recent additon to the Nine Dragon Screen family is the one built inside the XiJiao (West Suburb) Park in Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province in 1985.




The Nine Dragon Screen is 6 metres high and 31 metres long. It is constructed with 270 glazed tiles.


The Legend of the Broken Tile

If you look carefully at each individual dragon, you will find something unusual about the screen. The third dragon from the left is a slightly different colour at the bottom. Legend has it that the day before Emperor QianLong's inspection, one tile (located at the bottom of the third dragon) suddenly fell down and broke into many pieces.

Because there was very little time left, and everyone would be beheaded if one part was left broken, as a last resort a carpenter made a wooden one to look exactly like the original. Fortunately, the emperor did not discover the discrepancy and the lives of all the craftsmen were saved.




Next : Other Places of Interest

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

Share this page


Quick Links
Top travel guides

Great Wall of China

Great Wall Beijing

Forbidden City

Summer Palace

Temple of Heaven

Beihai Park

TianAnMen Square

JingShan Park

YuanMingYuan Park


China Travel and Culture Videos Home

BeiJing Travel Guide Home