Big Stone Pedestal

Here you can see a big stone pedestal for a flagpole which stands in front of Qin’an (Imperial Peace) Hall. This pedestal stands on a square stone slab and is made up of two pieces of stone fastened together with a pair of iron hoops. It is 2.1 metres high and each of its four sides is 1.4 metres wide. The flagpole, that used to be on the pedestal, stood high above the Forbidden City and people looking out from the White Dagoba in Beihai Park could easily see the flagpole above the green trees and yellow glazed tiles of the imperial palaces. It is the only thing that tells people where the imperial garden is located.

The carving on the four sides of the pedestal shows two dragons playing with a pearl. This is the most popular design in the traditional stone carving in China’s imperial buildings. The pattern is repeated in the carvings in the stone balustrades around the “Hall of Imperial Peace”. Above the dragons and between the two iron hoops, the four sides are carved with mountains and clouds. The two dragons dominate the picture. One of them is heading upwards and the other down-wards. They form a circle around the pearl in the centre. In the back-ground, behind the dragon, clouds roll above a turbulent sea.

The stone slab under the pedestal is 16 centimetres thick. The ocean waves carved on its surface appear tranquil. Amid the waves are rocks of various shapes and figures of the spirits and demons of sea animals, such as sea cows, sea horses, snails, walruses, green turtles and crabs. In each of the four corners of the stone slab is a carved whirlpool. A soft-shelled turtle emerges from the southeast corner. A fish, a shrimp and a crab emerge from each of the other three corners. Therefore, the carvings of the whole pedestal and the slab under it, present a wonderful scene including the seabed with various demons of the sea, the big waves on the sea, the mountains, and rolling clouds with dancing dragons in them. All these form a fairy world. Legend has it that the dragon is the god of water. The dragons and sea spirits carved here, expressed the Emperor’s prayers that this god would protect his palaces from fire.

The dragons and the pearls are carved in relief, about 6 to 7 centimetres above the stone surface, while the rocks under the dragon area bout 4 centimetres and the rolling clouds and waves are .only some 2centimetres above the surface. The fish, shrimp, turtle and crab in the four corners of the stone slab under the pedestal are also carved in great detail. The fish is arching its body to jump out of the whirlpool. Its scales are carved with an uneven spread according to the form of its body. The small legs and feelers of the shrimp and the fine hairs on the crab are all clearly carved. The turtle appears most interesting. With its neck outstretched, it seems to be struggling with all its might to get rid of the whirlpool. The two legs at its right side have emerged from the water and the foreleg on the other side is half out, while the rear one is still under the surface. The turtle looks as if it has used up all its strength.

The artist used different methods of carving for different objects.

The mountains and rocks were carved with rough surfaces. The clouds, sea, dragons and other animals were carved with smooth surfaces which are polished to the touch. This made these figures appear more vivid and added depth to the whole carving. The artistic design of the pedestal and the stone slab under it has been exquisitely ex-pressed through the master’s carving techniques. The combination of the artistic design and the wonderful techniques of stone working make the pedestal one of the masterpieces of stone carving left from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

In the Forbidden City, there are 9,999.5 rooms. Why not around 10,000?

Legend has it that the Palace of the Jade Emperor (the Supreme Deity of Taoism) consists of 10,000 rooms. But the Emperor in the human world was the son of the Emperor in heaven. He could not have the same treatment as the Jade Emperor. The so-called half-room was constructed on the ground floor of the Wenyuange Pavilion (Imperial Library). The small room, which accommodates only a staircase, was built solely for aesthetic layout. If you want to know whether it should be called a room or a half-room, decide for youself if you have the chance to visit the Forbiden City.

With so many rooms in the Forbidden City, if a person changed rooms each night from the day of his birth, he would be 27 years old before he had stayed in every one. To guard against assassins, no one knew in which room the Emperor slept at night except his trusted eunuchs.

Leave Us Your Message

  • Please fill in the relevant information and click the "Submit" button. Your private tour operator will get back to you by email within 24 hours. For urgent booking, please call us at +86-10-85893819, or mobile phone +86-13910972927.