Taihedian (Hall of Supreme Harmony), publicly called Jinluandian, is located at the predominate place on the axes from south to north in Forbidden City. In 1420, it was completed and ten called Fengtaindian. In 1562, it was renamed Huangjidian. And in 1645, it was finalized to be Taihedian(Hall of Supreme Harmony). Since its completion, it suffered several fire disasters and also experienced many restorations. Currently what we see is restored on in 1695. Taihedian(Hall of Supreme Harmony) is the largest palace hall with a wood structure in China today. The stele or board with four Chinese Characters ”建极绥猷” was written by Emperor Qianlong in Qing Dynasty.
Taihedian(Hall of Supreme Harmony) has five rooms long from front to back and 11 rooms long from left to right. It has an architectural area of 2377 square meters and 26.92 meters high. If it is added the length of the dais, it will be 35.03 meters high. Taihedian(Hall of Supreme Harmony) is the largest palace hall in Forbidden City. The upper section is a roof of Chongyanwudianding (重檐庑殿顶, Double eaves Wudian Roof. This is the top-level palace roof in Qing Dynasty, and Wudianding is also called Sieding and Wujidian. The palace roof structure displays the rectangle, and the surface is wide and the inside is deep. The front and the back slopes meet together, and then we call the connection mid ridge. And the left and right slopes have four vertical ridges and respectively connect with the one side of the mid ridge. Chongyanwudianding is an exclusive roof structure that we can see only in Taihedian(Hall of Supreme Harmony) and Lingendian of Ming Thirteen Tombs. It is only used in imperial architectures). Both ends two big decorations are set with 3.4 meters long and weight of 4300 kilograms. The eave corner has 10 animal sculptures. It is the only architecture has so many animal sculptures. Taihedian(Hall of Supreme Harmony) in total has 72 columns to hold the total weight of the architecture. Among the columns, the mid one is the thickest and tallest with a diameter of 1.06 meters and 12.7 meters high. In Ming dynasty, the columns were made of Nanmu, a kind of rare wood generally from Sichuan, Guangxi, Yunan and Guizhou provinces. And pine-tree wood was used as the column after the restoration of Qing dynasty, and these woods were all from the deep mountains of northeast China.
Taihedian (Hall of Supreme Harmony) has an extremely luxurious decoration. Below the eaves, there are the dense arches, and inside and outside of the palace, the colorized paintings were decorated on the beams and walls. The gates and windows are embedded the traditional images of water chestnut on the upper side and on the lower side, there is the image of dragon in floating clouds. The inside ground of the hall is paved by the golden bricks. In total 4,718 golden bricks were used for paving. The brick actually is not made by god but a special brick made in Suzhou. The surface of the brick is slight black, oily and bright. The soil quality is very good in Suzhou and the making techniques are also refined. In the middle of the hall, there is a gold throne with nine-dragon sculptures. On the both sides of the throne, there are 6 giant pillars with a diameter of 1 meter, and the pillar also has the image of dragons in floating clouds. In the front of the throne, there are four fitments: Baoxiang (Treasured Elephant), Luduan(甪端, a legendary holy animal, partially similar to Lion. It was said that this animal can go 18,000 miles per day and understand all the languages of all the creatures), Immortal Crane and Fragrant Pavilion. The Treasured Elephant symbolizes the strengthening of national stability and sovereignty; Luduan means auspiciousness; Immortal Crane means longevity, and Fragrant Pavilion means the stability of country. On the middle ceiling, there was a crimpling dragon, and the dragon head descends and a pearl in the mouth.
There is a broad dais in front of Taihedian (Hall of Supreme Harmony), people usually call it Danbi or Yuetai. On the Danbi, there are sundial(日晷, an ancient time calculagraph), Jialiang (嘉量, the ancient measuring equipment), a pair of copper tortoises and a pair of copper cranes as well as 18 copper Dings(鼎, an ancient cooking utensils, later on, it became the symbol of a country or power). The base of Taihedian(Hall of Supreme Harmony) is 8.13 meters and is comprised of three-storey white marble stones. And the surrounding of Taihedian(Hall of Supreme Harmony) is the white fence and balusters. Below the balusters, there are the stone-carved dragon heads for rainwater drainage. In the raining time, there are thousands of dragons spitting the rainwater.
In both Ming and Qing Dynasties, there were 24 Emperors held the ceremony in Taihedian(Hall of Supreme Harmony) such as Emperors’ enthronement ceremony, emperors’ wedding ceremony, and empress declaration ceremony and so on. Besides, each year, on the days of Longveity Festival, New Year’s Day and Winter Solstice Day, the emperor received the worshipping and greetings from thousands of officials or officers. And the emperor also represented the officials or officers the royal banquets. Moreover, the royal examinations were also held in Taihedian(Hall of Supreme Harmony).
Taihedian(Hall of Supreme Harmony) is the largest and highest-level architecture in Forbidden City. It is the top of Chinese ancient architecture with an incomparable status and refined decorations. Taihedian(Hall of Supreme Harmony), after experiencing a long-term history, was largely restored since 2006 and ended in 2008.
Writer: David from Seeraa International
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