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The Meridian Gate(Wumen)

 

Wumen (The Meridian Gate), the gate of Forbidden City, is located at the south-north axes line of the Forbidden City. This gate is in middle place and faces sunshine directly, it is on the meridian, and hence it was named Wumen.

Duanmen (Southern End Main entrance), Tiananmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace) and Daqingmen (traditionally called Zhonghuamen in the time of Republic of China, and in 1959, it was dismantled for Tiananmen Square establishment and in 1976, on the former-base of Zhonghuamen, Chairman Mao Memorial Hall was established) are in front of it, and Taihemen (Gate of Supreme Harmony) is at back of it Wumen (The Meridian Gate) was established in 1420, and restored in 1647 and in 1801. The plane graph of Wumen (The Meridian Gate) looks like Chinese Character” 凹”,which was originated from the structure and layout of Hanyuandian of Daminggong (the imperial palace of the Tang Dynasty in Xian) and Danfengmen (Red Phoenix Gate) of Imperial Palace of the Song Dynasty. Wumen was directly changed from the gate structure of the Han Dynasty. Wumen was comprised of upper section and lower section. The lower section is the dais with 12 meters high.

In the middle place, three gates are opened and two sides there are also two relatively small-sized gates. Why did the ancient people open door like this? It is just because of the tradition of Three Vivid Gates and Five Subsidiary Gates. Two sides of the dais, there are the horsing way for going upstairs and downstairs. Five gates play the different roles. Emperor exclusively used the middle one, and there is also an exception for others to use. That is on the marriage day of Emperor, Empress, who was the wife of emperor, was qualified to go through this gate via sedan chair. Besides, top-three winners of Imperial Face-to-Face Examination in Forbidden City were qualified to go out the palaces through this gate.

The west-side gate was used only for entry and exit for princes and top-level officials, who were always the relatives of Emperors. Two subsidiary gates were only opened for large-scale events or ceremonies. The middle of the Wumen is a tower with 60.5 meters long and 25 meters wide, and belongs to the style of Double-Eave Wudian Roof. At both sides, there are bell tower and drum tower. On the day that the emperor went to Temple of Heaven and Temple of Earth for greeting prayer, the bell and drum would be sounded at the same time. Striking bell and striking drum were usually done in different occasions. The drum was only stricken when emperor went to show worshipping in Imperial Ancestral Temple, while Bell and Drum were both stricken when some large movements were done. The whole architecture of Wumen looks like the unfolding-wing phoenixes; hence Wumen is also called Five-Phoenix Tower (五凤楼).

Wumen (The Meridian Gate) was also the place for emperor to issue the imperial rescript. On some special occasions, Emperor would do some special declarations to all the country. On the day of Spring Begins (one for 24 Lunar periods in China), Emperor would present Spring Cake here; on the day of Dragon-Boat Festival (the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, Officially falling on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, the Dragon Boat Festival is also known as Double Fifth Day. While many stories regarding its origin abound, the most popular and widely accepted version regards Qu Yuan, a minister during the Warring States Period (475 221 BC)), Emperor would present cooling cake; on the day of the Double-Ninth Festival, Emperor would be here to present Flower Cake. On the 1, October in lunar calendar, the government would issue the next-year calendar. On the successful returning day of the troops, government also would hold the huge rite or ceremony for the military showing their prisoners of war to Emperor. By the way, the officials or officers used to take the governmental beating as punishment here. Initially, such a beating punishment was slight but later on it gradually became the death penalty, and many unwise officials or officers were beaten to death here.




 


Writer: David from Seeraa International
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