The Forbidden City is the world largest surviving palace in China. It, first, built by Han dynasty. Later after collapsed of the Han dynasty, the first emperor of Ming dynasty moved the capital to Nanjing, but it then moved back to old palace in Beijing and the constructions began again in 1406 A. C. The Forbidden Palace was a Chinese imperial city during Ming and Qing dynasties. It was a home for twenty-four emperors. The palace consists of nine hundred buildings and nine thousand nine hundred ninety nine rooms.
In additional, the palace was not only the center of politics, but it also the center of culture, the arts, poetry, history and science. Furthermore, Chinese people, in Ming and Qing dynasties, believed that they built the palace to home the son of heaven, the term they referred to their emperors. However, this paper will be focusing on the overall traditional Chinese architecture during Ming and Qing dynasty, as background knowledge, the strictly in the Forbidden City architecture, and the expression of their believing and symbolism through their architecture.
The Forbidden City has known, to the world, as one of the architecture masterpieces. First of all, Chinese traditional architecture may be tracked back 7000 years, though great differences in geographical and climatic conditions coursed, marked diversity in the architecture of various regions. Traditional Chinese architecture is an independent developed unique system and the oldest system in the world. As we know, China had found since the Neolithic Age and had over 15 dynasties.
However, the Ming and Qing Dynasties are the two dynasties that had the major changed not only in Characteristics, but also in developments. Traditional Chinese architecture’s characteristics can be described and classified into the following: built environment, planning, construction, bracketing system, roof form, roof section, roof decorations, color scheme, walls, columns, riles, windows, doors and openings, and podiums and balustrades. During Ming and Qing dynasties, the improvement in traditional Chinese architecture can divided into several stages based on technical standard and progress in stylistic.
Through the technical standard, a unique system based upon wooden framework gradually took shape over several millennia of innovation and synthesis. It is still in use today and it has exerted a profound influence over Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia, as an enduring and continuous system characteristic, which spread with spirit over a large area. Moreover, the structure of wooden frame building bears the weight of its roof as well as the upper stories. There are three important forms appeared in Chinese traditional architecture.
First, ‘Tailiang’, column- beam- and- strut system. The method of building is laying major beams across the front and back columns, then laying shot and smaller beams over them, supported by struts which rise in between to created a roof lines sloping to the side of the building. Then added purlin over which rafter are laid. The area between two purlins and two columns serves as basic unit of space in a wooden framed house. Second ‘Chuadon’ framework, column- and- tie system.
This framework differs from the first ones; because the purlin not supported by beam, but the column rise higher and higher, then form the roofline and supported purlins directly. Third called ‘Miliang pingding’, purlin- and- rafter flat roof. This form uses column to support purlins, which purlins acted as the main beams. From those of the three forms, the column- beam- and– strut style used widespread in the central, northern, northwestern, and northeastern of China. As the result, the use of wooden framework created an outstanding architectural characteristic in several ways.
In elevation, the exterior of the building clearly divided into three parts, the platform, building proper, and roof. In roof form, the roofs designed to have concave surface and curved-up corner, to facilitate water shedding from the roof and penetration of light into the interior. Furthermore, on the roof form, the column- beam- and- strut also permits several roof styles. First is ‘Zuanjian’, pyramid- shaped roof. The other one is ‘Wudian’, a hipped roof, and ‘Xieshan’, a combination hip-gable.
These three types of roof have two adjacent slopes that meet above each of four corners at forty-five-degree angles. However, another most outstanding Chinese traditional characteristic, through stylistic, is ‘Dougong’, a combination of block and supporting arm. Dougong has been use ever since Han Dynasty, fifth century B. C. to third century A. D, and developed itself to reached peak point in Tang and Song dynasty, from seventh to thirteen centuries. More importantly, it preserved the structural integrity of the wooden framework, functioning the collar beam in modern architecture.
Dougong gradually shrank in size and lost its important as a structural member to become a stylized traditional decorative, in Ming and Qing Dynasties. By the use of dougong, it demonstrates a progress in the beginning as the technical standard then reached the apex point, and finally turned down to an insignificant role as a stylistic element. Another example of architectural development in style during Ming and Qing Dynasties is the garden element. The landscape garden design has gone through a long historic phase of development.
The garden evolved into two types, royal and private gardens. The private garden served to the residences for enjoyment, relaxation, and living quarters. The royal garden way differs in size and the organizations. However, stylistic of the garden plan had long developed ever since Zhou dynasty (1066-225 BC). The development reached its apex of sophistication in Ming and Qing dynasty. Second of all, architecture of the Forbidden City was strict adherence to centrality, symmetry, severity along the cardinal axis. The palace was named the purple forbidden city after the purple luminous constellation with Polaris, the north star in its center —- a heavenly equivalent of the earthly residence of the supreme ruler. ” Back then; Chinese people believed that their emperors are the Sons of God, heavenly men, who came to protect them and to be their centered. By the centrality, buildings aligned along the central of the North and South axes with all major buildings facing southward, direction of the sun beneficence. The building arrangement within the Forbidden City is symmetrical.
The Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony and the Hall of Preserving Harmony, which comprise the outer palace, and the Hall of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Union and the Hall of Earthly Tranquility, comprising the inner palace, stand in a line from south to north on the central axis. Furthermore, the symmetry of the capital city reflects the sociopolitical ideal of balanced, stable, hierarchical and harmonious. The palace architecture manipulated to relate space and form to symbol and rank. Space and form are most noticeable as we look at the overall buildings in the palace complex.
The size of halls varies depended on the usage. According to the three great halls that related directly to the emperor, as most outstanding example to support the idea of space and form relate to the symbol and rank. Lastly, express of believing and symbolism through architecture. “ Chinese cosmology pictured the heaven round and the earth as a stable cube. Space was conceived as a series of imprecated squares, at the center of which lay the capital of the empire strictly oriented toward the points of the compass.
And in its center the palace commanded the main north- south axis, facing southward (as did all important buildings) in the direction of the Red phoenix of summer and fire. To the east was the region of the blue Dragon, of spring and growth and the upright tree. In this sector of the capital would be the Temple of the Ancestors. Autumn and its harvest, but also wars, the harvest of men, and memory and regret were all symbolized by the white Tiger of the west, and in the urban layout by the Altar of the Earth.
From the north came cold winter and marauding hordes bent on destruction; its color was black. The emperor faced away from it, and in the northern sector of the city, confined behind the palace, would be situated dubious activities including commerce and its markets” According to the quote, Chinese expressed their belief through the palace architecture, by setting the palace at the center of their capital city and put all seven major halls lining at the center of the complex.
Emperor’s hall also located at the very center of the complex, as they believed that the emperors are the Heavenly men, who came to protected them and be their centered. Furthermore, the expression of their believing helped demonstrated an extraordinarily and concordant balance between the open space and the buildings in a proportional layout of the Palace City. It also held an enormous gardens, terraces, and most outstanding stairways. The building intentionally decorated with gold, red, and green as they believed that those are auspicious colors. Here I use the two concepts – monumentality and monument— to indicate two interrelated levels in my discussion. Both terms derive from the Latin word ‘monumentum’ meaning to remind and to admonish. But in my usage monumentality (defined in Webster’s New International Dictionary as a “monumental state and quality”) sustains such functions of a “monument”; a physical monument can survive even after it has lost its commemorative and instructive significance.
The relationship of monumentality to monument is thus close to that of content and form this explains why only an object possessing a definite monumentality is a functional monument. Monumentality thus denotes memory, continuality, and political, ethical, or religious obligations to tradition. This primary meaning underlines a monument’s manifold social, political and ideological significance. As scholars have repeatedly stated, a monument, no matter what hape or material serves to preserve memory, to structure history, to immortalize a figure, event, or institution, to consolidate a community or a public, to define a center for political gathering or ritual communication, to relate the living to the dead, and to connect the present with the future. ” The palace of the Forbidden City could be count as Monumentality, because it was once use for social and political matter and the palace still remain it’s point, even though, it had lost commemorative and instructive significance.
Moreover, the palace can also describe as the monument, because the grateful of its power remain in people memory for a long period. Another example of symbolism is the horizontality. Horizontal used to express sedateness and harmony. The big horizontal roof was to represent sky, and the Son of Heaven. In addition, the five arched brides symbolized the five virtue; benevolence, righteousness, rite, wisdom, and honestly. Their concurrence to each other and centralized position strongly emphasize the main axis of the total complex and make the significance of the three great halls.
The symbolic and believing express through architecture, shows the significant meaning of the palace architecture. In conclusion, China is one of the most oldest country in the world. Its architecture existed for a long period of time. Traditional Chinese architecture had been well developed in both technical and stylistic, during Ming and Qing dynasties. If we look closer to the architecture of the Forbidden City, the struture and orientation was strictly to the centra lity and symmetry concepts. And the believing had played a significant role in the expression of architecture.