Sunday, July 17, 2011

Second Day in Beijing Part I (7/17/2011)

Sunday, July 17, 2011
Very overcast and gray today.
Took a taxi to Panjiayuan Market:
The biggest, most varied, best antiques (so-called antiques) market in China!
Even if you aren't a shopper, you are supposed to go and check it out.
Textiles, minority handicrafts, and silver:
See the alligator handbag?
Ceramics:
Painted furniture:
Stones:
Animal products:
Mega-feather dusters:
Lamps:
Stonework:
Took another taxi to the Tian Tan/Temple of Heaven:
Once entering the park, you could barely see the "temple" down the Chinese juniper-lined avenue.
Folks were there to enjoy the park. A dance group with badminton rackets which they swung around while keeping a ball on it:
video
The Seven Star Rocks:
Each represented a kingdom in China, and an eighth one was added when Manchuria took over.
The Seventy-two Long Corridors:
Actually it has 72 sections to make it a long corridor!
Painted rafters:
Card players:
Apparently there is a deck of 84 cards that can be used for dominoes or a "climbing card" game.
Board game:
So I thought they were playing checkers, but this is another board game
Xiangqi or Chinese Chess.
Mahjong players:
A group singing along with a small band:
A pagoda tree grows between trunks of old junipers:
Brynne at Qinian Dian/Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests:
First constructed in 1420, it is one of the most beautiful buildings in Beijing. A paradigm of Chinese architectural balance and symbolism, it was here where the emperor as the son of Heaven could intercede with the gods. It was made entirely of wood without using nails.
PBB
Like the Forbidden City, this area used to be off-limits to the common people.
The interior is filled with dragons and phoenixes, representing the emperor and empress. It was too dark and too high to be able to see the gilt dragon and phoenix at the center of the circular ceiling.
KSS
You could see the four red and gold Dragon Well pillars, representing the four seasons.
Detailed painted decorations inside and out:
PBB
The Hall of August Heaven and its gate:
PBB
Fish water spout:
KSS
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests sits on three platforms of marble:
The base is square, representing earth, and the hall is circular, representing heaven.
Brynne in front of the gate to the gardens:
KSS
The Rose Garden:
The Double Rings Longevity Pavilion:
Bridge to the Palace of Abstinence:
Wide avenue in the park:
Martial arts group in the forest:
On the Red Step Bridge or Imperial Walkway Bridge:
Looking towards the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.
Brynne at the gate to the Imperial Vault of Heaven:
A juniper tree over 500 years old:
While on one of our many water breaks, we noticed the staff getting lunch served from a window of a van; just bring your own bowl:
The Imperial Vault of Heaven:
a mini-version of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, this is where they kept the ceremonial equipment.
The vault is surrounded by a circular Echo Wall:
Notice the railings to prevent you from standing next to the wall to test the echo effect. But that didn't stop people from yelling! Supposedly you can hear a whisper on the other side of the circle, or a handclap will have multiple echoes.
Posing begins early:
So does photography:
Through the decorative gates to the Round Altar:
The Round Altar or Tian Tan/Altar of Heaven is really the centerpiece of this complex.
PBB
It sits on top of three circular marble platforms, and the altar itself is made of nine concentric circles; each circle containing a multiple of nine pieces.
Family posing on the center, where once the emperor sacrificed a bullock on the winter solstice:
Blue tile detail:
KSS
Imperial trash cans:
Altar stove:
After a sacrifice, everything had to be burned.
This man offers his daughter as a sacrifice:
These nine stoves were to burn the offerings of the common people:
Weary tourist:
Zhaoheng Men/South Gate:
The three openings: the largest center arch was for the gods, the east arch was for the emperor, and the west arch for officials. Now we get to use the center opening.
A tricycle automobile:
A metal box on wheels:

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