Sunday, June 16, 2013

Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven is a religious area in Beijing that was once visited by emperors for prayer to Heaven and for a bountiful harvest. The temple is generally considered Taoist in religous origin.

Surrounding the Temple of Heaven is a large garden and covered boardwalk. Many people were enjoying the cool weather and playing card games, eating, or knitting. Yes, large groups of women knitting.

We turned one corner and found ourselves swept into the crowd. A small band had set up and were passing out sheet music. They had created an impromptu concert in the park! 

The Temple of Heaven is a magnificent structure with three tiers on raised marble stone. Each element of construction has place in Feng Shui or Chinese culture such as the number of stairs on each segment or the number of support pillars inside. For example, Earth is represented by a square and Heaven by a circle. Many places around the compound would display cirle in relation to square. The Temple of Heaven is round and stands on a square yard, again representing Heaven and Earth. The structure has four inner, twelve middle and twelve outer pillars, representing the four seasons, twelve months and twelve hours.

The ceiling is called the "Well to Heaven".

Walking through the park

On a different corner of the park we found the Seven-Star Stone Group. These rocks, placed according to Feng Shui, represent the seven peaks of a mountain that was used to worship Heaven many centuries before.

A later emperor added the small eighth rock to represent the Emperor's place in Heaven.

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