Tem­ple of Heaven

ChinAfrica - - CHINA ABC -

the Tem­ple of Heaven is the place where the em­per­ors of the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties (1368-1911) wor­shipped heaven and prayed for good har­vests. It is an ax­ial ar­range­ment of the Cir­cu­lar Mound Al­tar to the south with the con­i­cally roofed Im­pe­rial Vault of Heaven im­me­di­ately to its north. This is linked by a raised sa­cred way to the cir­cu­lar, three­tiered, con­i­cally roofed Hall of Prayer for Good Har­vests fur­ther to the north.

To the west is the Hall of Ab­sti­nence where the em­per­ors fasted after mak­ing sac­ri­fice. The whole park is sur­rounded by a dou­ble-walled, pine-treed en­clo­sure. Be­tween the in­ner and outer walls to the west are the Di­vine Mu­sic Ad­min­is­tra­tion Hall and the build­ing that was the Sta­bles for Sacri­fi­cial An­i­mals.

Within the com­plex there are a to­tal of 92 an­cient build­ings with 600 rooms. It is the most com­plete ex­ist­ing im­pe­rial sacri­fi­cial build­ing com­plex in China and the world’s largest ex­ist­ing build­ing com­plex for of­fer­ing sac­ri­fices to heaven.

Lo­cated south of the For­bid­den City, the orig­i­nal Al­tar of Heaven and Earth was com­pleted to­gether with the For­bid­den City in 1420. In 1530, the de­ci­sion was taken to of­fer sep­a­rate sac­ri­fices to heaven and earth, and so the Cir­cu­lar Mound Al­tar was built to the south of the main hall for sac­ri­fices par­tic­u­larly to heaven. The Al­tar of Heaven and Earth was thereby re­named the Tem­ple of Heaven.

The sit­ing, plan­ning, and ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign of the Tem­ple of Heaven as well as the sacri­fi­cial cer­e­mony and as­so­ci­ated mu­sic, were based on an­cient tenets re­lat­ing num­bers and spa­tial or­ga­ni­za­tion to be­liefs about heaven and its re­la­tion­ship to peo­ple on earth, me­di­ated by the em­peror as the “Son of Heaven.” Sim­i­lar al­tars for the wor­ship of heaven were also built in other dy­nas­ties, but the Tem­ple of Heaven in Bei­jing is a mas­ter­piece of an­cient Chi­nese cul­ture and is the most rep­re­sen­ta­tive work of nu­mer­ous sacri­fi­cial build­ings in China.

Tem­ple of Heaven

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