Palace's hidden glories unearthed

Share This Post

Palace's hidden glories unearthed
Taihe Dian (Hall of Supreme Harmony) had ultimate status in the Forbidden City.[Photo by Wang Kaihao/China Daily]

Ongoing archaeological project at Forbidden City reveals early days of imperial site.

Countless visitors to the Forbidden City in the heart of Beijing are quickly enthralled by its architectural splendor.

Covering some 720,000 square meters and officially known as the Palace Museum, the imperial city was home to royal families of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

From 1420 until the fall of the Chinese monarchy, 24 emperors lived there. Myriad legends and stories lie behind its red walls and under the golden roofs.

In 2020, when the 600th anniversary of the venue’s completion was marked with an exhibition, an archaeological project was launched in October in the western part of the palace compound.

Behind closed doors and away from the hustle and bustle of visitors, the work has been relatively low profile, but discoveries may eventually reveal that the Forbidden City was once even more magnificent than it is today.

Standing in front of the archaeological site, it is easy to form a picture of one of the palaces in the compound based on glimpses of the bricks and stones spread across about 1,000 square meters of the excavated area. The work is the largest archaeological program involving the Forbidden City.

Archaeologists from the Palace Museum have unearthed four square underground foundations made from bricks in the early Ming Dynasty. The foundations were used to support columns.

Wu Wei, an archaeologist working at the site, said the 1.6-m-high foundations are about 4.4 m wide, making them the biggest brick-made column footings found in archaeological excavations in China. The foundations are known as sangdun in traditional Chinese architecture.

“If a foundation is so huge, just imagine how grand and tall the column above would be,” Wu said at the site late last month. “They may unveil a palatial construction from the early Ming Dynasty that was much bigger than the existing ones in the Forbidden City.”

Taihe Dian (the Hall of Supreme Harmony) in the core of the Forbidden City, which was used exclusively for the most important royal rituals, is the largest and highest construction in the royal compound. Nevertheless, its column cornerstones are only 1.6 m wide.

“We cannot see their underground footings, but we estimate that they could be about 2 meters wide, based on our previous experience of studying other Ming constructions. This is much lower than our new archaeological findings,” Wu said.

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   >  

Follow Chinafolk.org on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
spot_img

Related Posts

Starry nights on stage

From popular children's choir to Peking Opera, cultural carnival promises a surge of nostalgia as the People's Republic of China celebrates its anniversary.

Upcoming documentary show presents a rich 'Bouquet' of Chinese civilization

Within just five minutes, the extent and scope of Chinese culture is given a vivid presentation in China Bouquet, a bilingual documentary which will be for viewing on several online platforms.

Tasty tradition is sweet success for culture

Seen from afar, they are decorative polychromatic flowers, placed front and center at dining tables to feast the eyes.

High tech and art merge in Nanjing exhibition

The ongoing exhibition In the Line of Flight, for Possible Worlds at Deji Art Museum in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, has attracted lots of visitors by offering them a cool experience by mixing art and technology.

​Exhibition reviews development of ancient Chinese paintings

Editor's note: A collection of more than 1,700 copies of Chinese paintings and related calligraphy works from the Han Dynasty (202 B.C.- A.D. 220) to the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912) are currently on display at the National Museum of China in Beijing. 

Billboard expands its coverage in China’s market

As Billboard expands in Asia, Billboard China, a new edition, has been launched.Mike Van, who was named the new president of Billboard this May, said in an interview with China Daily that, "Billboard is further expanding its coverage in one of the biggest music markets in the world" and the move will be "bringing global pop music to Chinese fans and expose Chinese artists and music to an international audience".
- Advertisement -spot_img