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This post was edited by sillyoldman at 2013-1-27 12:34|
Tiantan (天壇) (Temple of Heaven)
Tiantan (天壇) (Temple of Heaven) comprises three main groups of construction of sacrificial Hall and Altars; all built according to strict Taoist philosophical principles: (1) The Altar (Hall) of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿 Qi Nian Dian), (2) The Imperial Vault of Heaven (皇穹宇 Huang Qiong Yu) and (3) the Circular Mound Altar (圜丘壇 Yuan Qiu Tan).
The altars are connected by a 360-meter-long raised walk called the Red Step Bridge which is arranged in line with a 1,200-meter-long north-south axis flanked by century-old cypress trees. Tiantan’s altars are laid out according to the divine rule: buildings and paths are positioned to represent the right directions for heaven and earth. This means that the northern part is higher than the south.
View Map of Temple of Heaven Park:
http://www.beijingtrip.com/attra ... e-of-heaven-map.jpg
(1) The Altar (Hall) of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿 Qi Nian Dian)
The Altar (Hall) of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿 Qi Nian Dian) is not the original building (The Great Hall for Sacrificial Rituals 大祀殿 dà sì diàn) re-built by Emperor JiaJing 明朝嘉靖皇帝 (1521-1567) in 1545. Emperor Guangxu 光绪皇帝) rebuilt the Altar (Hall) of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿 Qi Nian Dian) in 1890 following the original architectural blueprints from the Ming dynasty after it was brunt down in 1889. It was claimed that the re-constructed building has all the exact shapes, colors and posts similar to the original.
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests built in 1890 is a magnificent triple-gabled circular building with its cone-shaped blue roof crowned with a gilded knob. The blue roof signifies the sky or heaven. The external view suggests a three-storey building but in reality, it is only a single storey high. It is completely a wooden structure with no nails. It had corbel 枕梁 (zhěn liáng) wood bracket supports holding up a multi-inclined roof and mortise and tenon 陰陽榫 (yīn yáng sǔn) interlocking woodwork system to tie beams and cross beams.
Inside the altar, the architectural elements of Chinese symbolism and beliefs are preserved. There are 28 huge posts in The Altar (Hall) of Prayer for Good Harvests. The inner 4 posts along the inner circle represent the four seasons 四季 (sì jì) and hold the main top roof. The 12 posts along the middle circle represent 12 months 月 (yuè) of the year and also form the intermediate lean-on roof whilst the 12 posts along the outer circle represent the 12 "Shichen (时辰)" or Chinese counting standard 1 shichen equaling 2 hours (12 two-hour periods (Shichen 时辰) into which the day was traditionally divided and the new day starts at 2300 hr (11pm) 子时 (11pm to 1am)). The outer posts also form the lower lean-on roof. Together these 28 poles correspond to the 28 constellations 星座 (xīng zuò) of heaven. The blue-black, yellow and green colors of the inner roof in the altar also represent the Earth and the Heaven. It also has a lavishly decorated ceiling so-called the Dragon and Phoenix Algae Well 龍鳳藻井. A carved dragon swirling down from the ceiling represents the emperor/s or emperor’s ancestry descending to the ancestral temple from heaven.
Under the ceiling on the praying altar floor are nine ancestral godly tablets of the Qing emperors with the central or main godly tablet (祖仙神位 “Zuxian Shen-Wei”) or Huangtian Shangdi 皇天上帝 on the spirit throne representing all the past ancestors of the emperor. The other eight godly memorial tablets are former Qing emperors of China including the emperor’s ancestors who did not ruled China.
The wooden structure building sits on three-tiered terrace 平台 marble stone base or the imperial grave mound. Each terrace was constructed with rings of stone slabs in multiples of nine. Even the steps and balustrade are also in multiples of nine.
View Altar (Hall) of Prayer for Good Harvests on:
http://en.tiantanpark.com/showim ... f3b&b=5.jpg&c=image
(2) The Imperial Vault of Heaven (皇穹宇Huang Qiong Yu)
The Imperial Vault of Heaven (皇穹宇 Huang Qiong Yu) is a single-gabled circular building, built on a single level of marble stone base or the imperial grave mound. It is located south of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and resembles it, but is smaller in size. It is surrounded by a smooth circular wall, the Echo Wall that can transmit sounds over large distances. The Imperial Vault is connected to the Hall of Prayer by the Vermilion Steps Bridge, a 360 meter long raised walkway that slowly ascends from the Vault to the Hall of Prayer.
Inside the Imperial Vault of Heaven, the emperor’s main godly tablet (祖仙神位 “Zuxian Shen-Wei”) called Huangtian Shangdi 皇天上帝 and emperor eight generation of ancestor's memorial tablets are stored/displayed. The building is “post and panel” structure and does not have the crossbeam but depends entirely on 8 eave posts 屋檐柱, 8 Jin Zhu 金柱 (Jin Zhu, literally means golden column, is the name of a column located behind the columns supporting the eaves) and the numerous dougong 斗拱 roof. Three caisson 藻井 ceilings, layer upon layer has the extreme aesthetic quality that makes this historic building quite unusual. The palace eave is covered with blue colour glazed tiles.
View Imperial Vault of Heaven on:
http://en.tiantanpark.com/showim ... f9c&b=5.jpg&c=image
(3) The Circular Mound Altar (圜丘坛 Yuan Qiu Tan)
The Circular Mound (Grave) Altar (圜丘坛 Yuan Qiu Tan) is located south of the Imperial Vault of Heaven. It is a circular platform on three levels of marble stones, each lavishly decorated. The center of the altar is a round slate called the “Heart of Heaven” or the “Supreme Yang”, which is surrounded by a ring of nine plates, and then by a ring of 18 plates, and so on, for a total of nine rings, with the outermost having 81=9×9 plates. The “Heart of Heaven” was designed in such a way that the sound of the prayer will be reflected by the guardrail, creating significant resonance, which was supposed to help the prayer communicate with the Heaven.
The Altar was initially built by Emperor Jianjing 明朝嘉靖皇帝 in 1530 and in1749, Qing Emperor Qianlong 乾隆皇帝 had the Circular Mound enlarged and the original blue-glazed tiles being replaced with white marble.
View the Circular Mound Altar on:
http://www2.kenyon.edu/Depts/Rel ... ges270/tiantan1.jpg