Gate of Supreme Harmony Pictures

  Gate of Supreme Harmony PicturesThese are gilded bronze water vats, two on each side. When the allied forces of the eight powers (Britain, Germany, France, Russia, America, Italy, Japan and Austria) invaded Beijing in 1900, the alien troops scraped the gold off the vats with their bayonets. On the north side underneath the vats (caldrons) are air vents to fan the fires set to keep the water inside from freezing in the winter.

  Looking up, you can see mythical animals on the upturned eaves of the building. In ancient times, there used to be big wooden nails to prevent the tiles from sliding. They were replaced by glazed tiles which were later shaped into mythical animals, such as the dragon, the pheonix, the lion, the heavenly horse, the sea horse, the Suanni, the Yayu, Xiezhi, Duoniu, and Hangshi. The dragon and pheonix are symbols of honoured supremacy; the heavenly horse and sea horse stand for emperor’s prestige and morale; Duoniu and Yayu are the strange beasts in the sea. Legend has it that they can make clouds and produce rain to prevent fire from disaster; the lion, king of beasts from foreign lands, is the dominator of the mountains; Suanni is said to be the beast of eating tiger and leopard. It is the symbol of the unity of the country and the symbol of all beasts following him; Xiezhi can distinguish right from wrong. It is the symbol of being open and above-board and purity and justice of the royal family, Hangshi is symbolic of honour and auspice, prestige and wisdom, and it also implies subduing of evil spirits and getting rid of calamities.

  Nowadays, these animals are decorations.

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