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Gate of Divine Prowess(Shenwumen)

 

Shenwumen(Gate of Divine Prowess)is the north gate of Forbidden City and it was established in 1420. In Ming Dynasty it was called Xuanwumen. Xuwu(玄武) is said to be the divine animal of ancient time, and it was the Black Tortoise, one of the Four Symbols of the Chinese constellations. Xuanwu traditionally mastered the north of the world; hence many north gates of palaces or halls were named Xuan Wu. When it was rebuilt in Qing Dynasty, it was named finally Shenwumen(Gate of Divine Prowess)for avoiding reiteration with name of Emperor Kangxi, whose name was Xuanye (玄烨).

The whole gate is 31 meters high and the whole structure looks like a rectangle. Shenwumen(Gate of Divine Prowess)is opposite to Jingshan Mountain. Traditionally there were bell and tower in Shenwumen(Gate of Divine Prowess)Gate, and they were managed by the guards. Shenwumen(Gate of Divine Prowess)as the back gate of Forbidden City was the important channel for entrance and exit. Both in Ming and Qing Dynasties, the empresses would come and go through this gate for official ceremony or rite that the Empresses nurtured silkworm by themselves to show the importance of raising silkworm. As we all know, the gates of Forbbiden City were also regulated by many rites and rules, and it is not anybody that can be qualified to enter or exit the gates, especially some main gates like Shenwumen. In Qing Dynasty, the Miss Contest for Emperor was held once every three years, and only the selected were qualified to enter the palace through the subsidiary gate of Shenwumen. In 1924, Emperor Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China in feudalistic period, was expelled out of the Forbidden City through this gate.




 


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