Marble Columns

HuabiaoA pair of white marble columns, sculpted with a dragon design, stands in front of Tian’anmen Rostrum. In Chinese they are called “Huabiao”. Behind the gate of Tian’anmen stands another pair of marble columns. Each Huabiao is 10 meters high and 20 tons in weight.
The marble column is named differently in different places; for instance, at the tomb area it is call “tomb ornamental column,” (Mubiao in Chinese); on the main street it is called “ street beacon columnm,” (Lubiao in Chinese); while the best carved ones in front of the architectural structures are called “ ornamental column ” ( Huabiao in Chinese) .
The story of Huabiao can be traced far back to more than 4, 000 years ago around the end of 22nd century BC, in the period off Yao, one of the stage kings in ancient China. At that time, the pillar was made of wood with a crossbar at the top known as a “slander pillar”. Standing in front of the “slander pillar” he would allow the common people to give their comments, advice and criticism or to expose the evildoers. This demonstrated his willingness to accept the views of the common people. Later, the “slander pillar” was reduced to a “street beacon column” or “sign post” which served as a “street sign” giving people’s direction. As time went on, however, Huabiao lost its original function and significance. Eventually, it became a pure architectural decoration or ornament and was made of stone or marble rather than wood.
A stone mythical animal squatting on the top of Huabiao is called“Hou.” This legendary animal is said to be one of the rune sons of the dragon. Since it had a habit of watching over, it was always made to sit on the top of Huabiao where it watched over the emperor’s behaviors. Whenever the emperor stayed too long outside the imperial palace, Hou would remind the emperor not to stay away too long outside, and to hurry back and take care of the state affairs, as everyone was looking forward to the emperor’s return. Therefore, the pair of stone animals facing toward Tian’anmen Square were given the name “Expecting the Emperor’s Coming Back”(Wangjungui in Chinese). Another pair of stone animal “Hou,” behind Tian’anmen, facing toward the Forbidden City, kept eyes on what the emperor was doing in the imperial palace, and always reminded the emperor not to stay in the palace too long spending a luxurious life with the empress and concubines. So, if the emperor stayed in the Imperial Palace too long, Hou would urge the emperor to come out because everyone was expecting him to, and then he could get to know the sufferings and complaints of the common people. Hence, these two “Hou” were given the name, “Expecting the Emperor’s Going Out” ( “Wangjunchu in Chinese” ).

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