Front Chamber

Front Chamber

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The stone gate is made of marble, 3.3 metres high and 1.7 metres wide. Each door slab weighs 4 tons. On it are 81 round studs and a door ring carved with the facial design of a mythological guardian known as Pu Shou. The door slab is thicker at the hinges, 40 cm, but tapers off toward the middle, thus lessening the weight and relieving pressure on the pivots. This makes the whole thing easy to open. To secure the huge stone gate, a bronze cross beam weighing about 10tons was installed on the top.

The stone block, known as “self-acting stone,” is a slab to shut the gate from behind. It is 1.6 metres high and a little wider at the two ends carved with lotus petal design. When the stone gate is closed, the lower end of the slab is fitted into a hole cut into the ground while its upper end leans against the back of the gate. You can’t open from outside. To open the gate, the people doing excavation work fitted in a wire through the 4 cm-wide gap between the two door slabs, turned it around to hold the stone block and then pushed back the block with a plank. The stone gate was thus opened. The first stone block bears ink-writing in regular script: “The self-acting stones of seven gates in the palace are not yet tested.” Hence the Name “self-acting stone.”

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