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[Beijing] Temple of Heaven   [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2011-12-15 15:22:20 |Display all floors
Introduction to the Temple of Heaven

The magnificent and colorful Temple of Heaven (TianTan) was where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would make offerings to heaven and pray for good harvests.

The Temple of Heaven was constructed between 1406 and 1420 during the reign of Ming Emperor YongLe (reign: 1403-1424), who also oversaw the creation of the Forbidden City during the same period.

The Temple of Heaven was originally established as the Temple of Heaven and Earth, but was given its current name during the reign of Ming Emperor JiaJing (reign: 1522-1567), who built separate complexes for the earth, sun and moon. The Temple of Earth (DiTan) can be found in north Beijing. The temples of the sun and moon are in the east and west of Beijing.

Tips: Early morning is the best time to visit The Temple of Heaven. You will have an interesting experience watching local people doing morning exercises, like dancing, walking, practicing tai chi or playing games, as you walk to the temple.

Temple of Heaven Facts

The Temple of Heaven located in the southeast of Beijing, was the place where royalty prayed for excellent weather and harvest. In Ming Dynasty (AD 1420), the emperor Zhuli built this Temple which covers an area of 2.72 million square meters. The Temple of Heaven has been listed as one of the World Cultural Relics by the UNESCO.

Chinese Pinyin: Tīan Tán

Location: Temple of Heaven is on the Southeast of Beijing.

Opening Hours: 8AM - 6PM

Ticket Price: Low Season Y10-30; High Season Y15-35

How to get to Temple of Heaven: Bus NO.3, 6, 17, 20, 35, 39, 54, 106, 116, 120, 122, 803.


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Post time 2012-6-27 11:38:58 |Display all floors
In Tiantan (天壇) (later known as Temple of Heaven to foreigners) in Beijing, built in 1420 by Ming Emperors, is said to be inspired by the Heavenly Peak (天壇顶) in Mount Wangwu (王屋山) which is in the northwest of the city of Jiyuan (濟源) roughly halfway between Taishan and Xian. Mount Wangwu (王屋山) is also known as the Heavenly Altar Mountain (Tiantan Shan 天壇山).

It was claimed Huangdi (黃帝) built a temple and stone altar on the Heavenly/Tiantan Peak (天壇顶) and offered sacrifices to the gods after finally won the war against Chiyou (蚩尤) and after united all the other tribes, thus establishing the Han Chinese nationality.

After uniting the country successfully, the Yellow Emperor (黃帝) continued to offer sacrifices to the gods of heaven on the 15th day of the eighth month in lunar calendar.

This pioneered the sacrifices to gods of heaven at the Heavenly Peak (天壇顶) at Tiantan (天壇) of Wangwu Mountains by emperors of later dynasties. Even today, performances recreating the sacrificial ceremony are held daily as a tourist attraction.

In website: , “Jiyuan 濟源_Origin of Chinese Culture” states:

“Many may have heard of the Temple of Heaven, Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon in Beijing, but not knowing the Heavenly Peak (天壇顶), Sun Peak and Moon Peak in Jiyuan. Similarly, there is Beihai Park and Fragrance Hill in Beijing, and there's little Beihai and the red leaves of Wangwu Mountain (王屋山) in Jiyuan (濟源).

It is said that Chinese emperors used to offer sacrifices to the gods of Heaven at the Heavenly Peak (天壇顶) on Tiantan Mountain (天壇山) in Jiyuan (濟源). By the reign of Chengzu of the Ming Dynasty, however, Emperor Zhu Di built the Temple of Heaven (Tiantan, 天壇) in Beijing to avoid the inconvenient transportation and long distance involved in traveling to Jiyuan (濟源). So, many historians insist the Heavenly Peak (天壇顶) is the real sacred place for emperors to offer sacrifices to their ancestors” … Unquote.

This does indicate Beijing’s Tiantan (天壇) was built as Ming Emperors’ ancestral temple when Ming Emperor moved his capital from Nanjing to Beijing.

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Post time 2012-6-28 08:46:02 |Display all floors
i hope i can go someday ,

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Post time 2012-7-1 14:30:08 |Display all floors
The Ming State Sacrifice

In “State sacrifices and music in Ming China…” by Joseph Sui Ching Lam: ... e&q&f=false, Joseph Lam gave a comprehensive detailed description of State sacrifices and music in Ming China. The below article was copied from the above website.

… State sacrifices were traditionally ranked as great, middle, and small ceremonial according to three basic criteria: importance of the deities being worshipped; the court’s assessment of the ceremonials; and particular contextual considerations…

The three ranks of state sacrifices were general classifications. Ceremonials belonging to the same rank could be further differentiated by the use of various ritual and musical elements, such as the types of sacrificial jade, the colors of the sacrificial silk, and the sizes of the escort for the celebrants. For example, the state sacrifices offered to the progenitors of agriculture and sericulture were both classified as middle ceremonials. However, the former ceremonial involved the sacrificial victims of an ox, a pig and a goat, while the latter, only a pig, and a goat; the size of the altar proper for former was longer than that of the latter…

The Ming State Sacrifice to Heaven

Ming state sacrifices were large-scale and presentational ceremonials, and their basic structure and principles of operation can be illustrated by the following sketch of the ritual-musical process of the state sacrifice to Heaven.

Fifty day prior to the performance of the sacrificial ceremony in the round-mound-altar compound (yuanqiu), located in the southern suburb of the capital, the emperor was asked to officiate at the pending event. Thirty days prior, the music director began rehearing the music of the ceremony. Six days prior, the emperor informed the ancestors that he would, on the following day, take a trip to the round-mound-altar compound to inspect the sacrificial animals. Four days prior, all participants in the sacrificial ceremony were reminded the three days of intense abstention would begin on the following day. Three days prior, the emperor went to the temple of imperial ancestors and invite the spirit of the founder to participate in the pending ceremony as Heaven’s companion. Two days prior, the emperor offered incense to individual ancestors in the hall of rest inside of the imperial ancestral temple compound, bidding farewell to his predecessor. One day prior, the emperor left for the abstention hall in the round-mound-altar compound. On the same day, ritual staffs arranged the spirits, musical instruments, and other ritual paraphernalia on the altar proper…

By midnight of the day of performance, the emperor was waiting in the great canopy. Donning full ritual regalia, the emperor proceeded to his obeisant-post on the second tier of the altar proper. Then when all participants took their ritual positions, the sacrificial ceremony formally began with intoner chanting the words “kindle the torches” and “welcome the deities”.

With the altar proper brilliantly illuminated, the first stage of ceremony began … Accompanied by musical sounds, the emperor approached the incense table (xiang’an) and offered three rounds of incense to the deity. He repeated the same series of gestures …to the deities.

The second stage of sacrificial ceremony began with the intoner chanting the words “offer the jade & silk”... the emperor approached the spirit-throne of Heaven, kneeled, and offered the jade and silk to the deity …He repeated the same series of ceremonial gestures and offering to the companion…

The third stage of sacrificial ceremony began with the intoner chanting the words “deliver the sacrificial food” … After the food delivery was completed, the emperor approached the spirit-thrones, offered the food to the deities, returned to his obeisant-post …

The fourth stage of sacrificial ceremony began with the intoner chanting the words “present the first offer of wine” … the emperor approached the spirit-throne of Heaven, accept a goblet of wine from a staff, and offered it to the deity. Having completed his gesture of offering, the emperor moved to a position where he would listen to a ritual officer’s reading of prayer prepared for the occasion …

The fifth stage was the second offering of wine …

The sixth stage was the last offering of wine… the emperor offered wine to Heaven and the companion. At the conclusion of the offering, the intoner chanted the words “bestow the blessed wine and meat.” Taking that as a cue, the emperor move to a position where would drink the blessed wine (yin fujiu) and received the blessed meat (shouzou) … In silence, the emperor received the blessed wine and meat, performed the prostration, and returned to his obeisant-post. There the emperor and all present performed the four obeisances.

The seventh stage of the ceremony was the removal of the sacrificial food by the ritual staff …

The eighth stage began with the intoner chanting the words “farewell to the deities” …the emperor and all present performed the four obeisances. Then, the ritual staffs collected the ritual documents, silk, and food and delivered them to the furnace (taitan). The emperor moved to east of his obeisant post.

The ninth stage consisted of watching the burning of sacrificial articles …When about half of the wood and sacred articles in the furnace was burned, the intoner announced the completion of the sacrificial ceremony …the emperor retreated to the great canopy, where he removed his sacrificial regalia. Then he embarked on his trip back to the palace …” Unquote

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Post time 2013-1-9 20:40:37 |Display all floors
The Vegetarian Palace 齋宮 (Zhai Gong) or Palace of Abstinence

The Vegetarian Palace 齋宮 or Palace of Abstinence is usually mistranslated as Fasting Palace. This is the palace where the emperor was on a strict vegetarian diet to “clean” or “purify” himself while abstaining from such imperial delights such as eating meat, drinking alcohol, having music and entertainment and of course from the distractions caused by women before the rite.

The Vegetarian Palace 齋宮 or Palace of Abstinence is located near the West Celestial Gate 西天門.  

It was said Yongzheng Emperor 雍正皇帝 in 1731 for fear of assassination threat secured the Palace of Abstinence into a small Forbidden City within Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park. As a small Forbidden City, it is separated by two walls. The inner wall is called the “brick city” and the outer wall is called the “purple wall”. To further ensure the safety of the emperor, a moat was built surrounding the “purple wall”. The walls were guarded by ethnic Manchurian soldiers and also act as a protective barrier against wind, rain, frost and snow to the palace.

The rectangular-shape Hall of Abstinence (Zhai Gong), features a blue tile roof and a number of copper ornaments in the palace complex.

The Beamless Palace is the main hall of Zhai Cong for it has no beam-supported roof; hence it is called Beamless Palace. It was the place where the emperor met his ministers during the Emperor’s abstinence.

Read about “The Legend of Zhai Gong in [url] [/url].

According to website: [url][/url] , cal606 wrote:
“The Bell Tower [钟楼 (Zhong Lou)] is located southeast of Fasting Palace [Vegetarian Palace or Zhai Gong 齋宮]. This bell was used to announce the arrival and departure of the Emperor to/from the Fasting Palace [Vegetarian Palace or Zhai Gong 齋宮]”.
The signboard was written as:

" In the early Ming Dynasty, the Palace of abstinence had wooded gallows for hanging a bronze bell, which was sounded to announce the arrival and departure of the emperor each time. In 1743 (the 8th year of Emperor Qianlong's reign), a two-storey tower was built for housing the gigantic bell, casting Yongle's reign, named the Bell of Supreme Harmony. With a thick large body, the bell sends its sonorous sounds far and wide when rung. Before the ritual took place, it used to be sounded to announce the departure of the emperor from the Palace of Abstinence and his arrival at the altar for the sacrificial rites”.

In Chinese: 钟楼 (Zhong Lou) …Unquote

Bell Tower taken by cal6060

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Post time 2013-1-17 14:34:52 |Display all floors
Brief History of Tiantan 天壇 (The Temple of Heaven)

Tiantan 天壇 (Temple of Heaven) is a complex of Taoist buildings situated in southeastern urban Beijing. The complex was originally built by the Ming Emperors and later renovated or rebuilt by Qing Emperors for annual sacrificial ceremonies to Heaven for their ancestral worship.

It is said that ancient Chinese emperors used to offer sacrifices to the gods of Heaven including their ancestors at the Heavenly Peak 天壇顶 on Mount Wangwu 王屋山 also known as Tiantan Mountain 天壇山 in Jiyuan 濟源. By the reign of Chengzu 明成祖 of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Zhu Di 明成祖朱棣 built Tiantan 天壇 (Temple of Heaven) in Beijing to avoid the inconvenient transportation and long distance involved in travelling to Jiyuan 濟源. So, many historians insist the Heavenly Peak 天壇顶 is the real sacred place for emperors to offer sacrifices to their ancestors.

Construction of the temple complex began in 1406 and completed in 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor 永樂帝 [also known as Emperor Zhu Di 明成祖朱棣].

Originally, the Ancestral Temple Complex was located in the royal garden, all surrounded by big pines. The main Altar Hall was called The Great Hall for Sacrificial Rituals 大祀殿 (dà sì diàn). The Great Hall for Sacrificial Rituals 大祀殿 (dà sì diàn) was initially constructed in a square design but was reconstructed in 1545 during Emperor JiaJing’s reign 明朝嘉靖皇帝 (1521-1567) as a round building with a three-tier roof as it stands today. Emperor JiaJing also previously built the Circular Mound (Grave) Altar 圜丘壇 (Yuan Qiu Tan) in 1530.

During the reign of Emperor Qianlong 乾隆皇帝 (1735-1796), Tiantan 天壇 went through another major reconstruction. In 1749, the fourteenth year of the reign of the Qing Emperor Qianlong, the Circular Mound was enlarged, the original blue-glazed tiles being replaced with white marble. After two years of renovation work at Great Hall for Sacrificial Rituals 大祀殿 (dà sì diàn), it was given the new name of the Altar (Hall) of Prayer for Good Harvests 祈年殿 (Qi Nian Dian).  

During the Second Opium War 第二次鸦片战争 (1856-1860), Tiantan 天壇 was occupied by the Anglo-French Alliance Armies 英法联軍 and then by the Eight Nation Alliance 八国联軍 in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion 義和團暴亂 (1898-1901). Turning into a temporary Forces Command Post, Tiantan was totally desecrated and undergone several serious damages and looting. The Altar (Hall) of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿 Qi Nian Dian) was burnt down in 1889 and was later rebuilt by Emperor Dezong 清德宗 (also known as Emperor Guangxu 光绪皇帝) in 1890 following the original architectural blueprints from the Ming dynasty. By the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, Tiantan had been neglected for years and started to crumble until the decision in 1914 to re-establish the original status of the Tiantan.

Tiantan was regarded as Emperor’s ancestral worship sanctuary and therefore forbidden to the public since construction. It was until Tiantan turned into a Park in 1918 that the Tiantan or Temple of Heaven Park was finally opened to the public. The site was classified by UNESCO as a heritage site in 1998.

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Post time 2013-1-17 16:39:27 |Display all floors
And here are few my shots of this place, few years ago.







Camera Fuji6500 (some kind of advanced compact camera), polarizing filter, almost no postwork

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