Marble Ramp

Marble RampThis is the largest piece of stone carving in the palace, a work of the Ming period.  It is 16.75 metres long, 3.07 metres wide and 1.7metres thick, and weighs about 250 tons. The emperor was carried in a sedan-chair over the marble ramp. No one was allowed to set foot on it. Most of the stone used in building the palace was from Fangshan and other counties. It was very difficult to transport such a big piece of stone here. The labouring people were so ingenious that they in-vented a method of shipping it over ice. Wells were sunk every half a kilometre, and water was brought up and poured on the ground to make a road of ice in winter. Rolling logs were used in summer. Twenty thousand people were involved in shipping this stone all the way from Fangshan Mountains 70 kilometres away from Beijing.
The numerous Ming Dynasty stone carvings in the Forbidden City were transported from Shiwo, a small village in Fangshan District 70kilometres southwest of Beijing and a place noted for its stone pits as well as craftsmanship.
Marble exploring has been traditional profession in Shiwo Village since the early Tang Dynasty (618-907). The Yunju Temple near the village has one of the world’s biggest collections of scripture slabs. Making a liying from marble for many generations, the village contributed more than their fair share in restoring the country’s badly-damaged cultural relics. Their work included re-laying the royal square of 3,000 square metres between the Upright Gate and the Meridian Gate in the Palace Museum known as the Forbidden City in the past. In 1985, they carved several columns for a classical Chinese archway which was set up in Washington, D.C., USA.

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