The Hall of Supreme Harmony as a simulacrum of Ming Dynasty construction

Authored by: Aurelia Campbell

The Ming World

Print publication date:  August  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138190986
eBook ISBN: 9780429318719
Adobe ISBN:


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It is hard to imagine a premodern building in China more iconic than the emperor’s audience hall, the great Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihe dian), in the Forbidden City in Beijing (Figure 11.1). The hall is located at the direct center of the Outer Court of the palaces, within a long series of gates and walls, and looks south across an expansive courtyard that served as a grand stage for ceremonies. Together with the two halls behind it, the Hall of Central Harmony (Zhonghe dian) and the Hall of Preserving Harmony (Baohe dian), collectively known as the Three Halls, it is elevated on a massive rammed-earthen platform faced with white stone (Figure 11.2). The current structure dates to 1695, during the Kangxi period of the Qing dynasty, but it has been renovated many times since then. Today, the fresh coats of paint and shiny roof tiles convey a sense of newness that obscures the building’s long and tumultuous history of destruction, ruin, and reconstruction that spanned nearly 250 years, from 1420 to 1695.

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