First of all, Mom, Dad, I am alive and I’m doing well! (Sorry, I promised to put that in if I was indeed alive.) For anyone who was wondering, we were not able to post on blogspot in China. I promise that all of us are safe and sound! We're a little sad to be leaving China, but excited to start our journey through Japan!
To begin this post, I would like to use a quote from Mark Twain:
“There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.”
With one look, a person could see that the Forbidden City certainly is something worth desiring; Mark Twain couldn’t have been more accurate. This city had a pretty bloody beginning with a lot of coveting and power at work. Overall, the Forbidden City housed 24 emperors in its time: 14 from the Ming Dynasty and 10 from the Qing Dynasty. This prestigious city was built over a period of about fourteen years (from 1406 to 1420) and held these 24 emperors for roughly 500 years before it was turned into the Palace Museum. This conversion into a museum took place right before World War II and it was determined that the national treasures in the Forbidden City were to be evacuated. The majority of this treasure was returned at the end of WWII, but the other portion was evacuated once again to Taiwan. This small collection is now a part of the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Today, the Forbidden City is a World Heritage Site and is currently being restored to resemble more closely its image before it became a museum.
So, that pretty much sums up the history. In case you were wondering, the Forbidden City is so named, because the city was forbidden to all unless one had special permission from the emperor. As for the aesthetics, almost all of the buildings in the Forbidden City are yellow, because yellow is the color of the emperor. However, the library in the city has a black roof which symbolizes water, thus fire prevention. There were two courts that we were able to see, the outer court and the inner court. The outer court was used for ceremonial purposes and the inner court was were the emperor and his family resided.
My take: The Forbidden City was amazing. It is one thing to read about a historical cite, but to actually see it. . . It was awe-inspiring. I think my favorite part was the ‘guard dogs” in front of the entrance to the Forbidden City. The one on the left has a baby under its paw and the one on the right has a ball under its paw. Clearly, the one that has the baby is the female and I’ll let you figure out why the other is male. These “guard dogs” are seen everywhere. I’ve seen them in front of so many stores and restaurants. In this picture, you can see the male guard.
Even in the Jade factory, they had a small jade versions of these sentinels. Other than this, the other thing that really stuck out to me were the gigantic bowls that looked like oversized pots for boiling water. I was close! They are used for water, but not for boiling. These pots were used to keep water in case the Forbidden City were to catch fire. I also thought the roofs were gorgeous. A lot of them had these gorgeous designs in beautiful colors. I can’t really explain them, so I’ll just show them.