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Gate of Supreme Harmony - Taihemen of Forbidden City

Behind Wumen (the Meridian Gate), one can see five bridges and the courtyard beyond. Further north in the center, it is Taihemen, the Gate of Supreme Harmony.

The river is called the Inner Golden River and the bridges called the Inner Golden River Bridges. The central bridge is reserved for emperors exclusively. The two flanking it are reserved for royal family members while the two outside are for ordinary officials. The bridges are well decorated with marble balustrades carved with motifs of dragon and phoenix. The river serves as fire hydrant as well as decorations. 

The large courtyard beyond the Inner Golden Water River covers ten thousand square meters. In Imperial China, the emperor was regarded as the Son of Heaven. Born to rule the empire, he has the loftiest position, no one and nothing could appear higher. so the large courtyard is treeless. Occupying the centre of the northern side of this courtyard is Taihemen, the Gate of Supreme Harmony. 

Taihemen (Gate of Supreme Harmony) is located in the north. It is guarded by two bronze lions, one on each side. Lions were supposed to be good doorkeepers because of their mighty and awesome look. They were regarded by the ancient Chinese as divine animals, capable of warding off evil spirits. 

The male lion is playing with a ball, which is said to represent the control of the whole universe by the emperor. The female lion is playing with a cub, which symbolizes prosperity of the royal family's offspring. 

The gate was burnt down in 1888, and rebuilt in the following year. During the Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty, this was where the emperor held his court to handle the state affairs. The emperor would sit in the gateway, accept documents from his ministers and make the decisions.

Beyond the Gate of supreme Harmony, there is a courtyard, 10, 000 square meters (12, 000 square yards) in area. When the ceremonies were held in the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the civil and military officials stood in lines in the courtyard with the high ranking officials in the front, all dressed in their splendid ceremonial robes. A long whip cracked three times as a signal and the whole assembly in unison performed the nine prostrations. 

In the courtyard, there are big cauldrons for storing water against fire. There used to be 308 in the whole palace but now only 231 are left. They were made of iron, bronze or gilded-bronze. The iron cauldrons ere made in the Ming Dynasty the bronze ones ere made in the Ming and Qing , and the 18 gilded ones were works of the Qing Dynasty.

The ground in the palace was laid in a very special way -- seven layers lengthwise and eight layers crosswise, totaling fifteen layers to protect assassins from digging tunnels into the palace. And the bricks were specially made to sound nice when walking on. The rooms on each side were said to serve as warehouses for storing such items as fur, porcelain, silver, tea, silk, satin and clothes. 

Though the Forbidden city was heavily guarded and surrounded by high walls with watch towers, the emperor had the foundation beneath the courtyard paved with fifteen layers of bricks in a special way: seven layers lengthwise, and eight layers crosswise, one layer lengthwise upon one layer crosswise, to prevent potential assassins from digging underground tunnels into the palace.

The gate is an important place where emperors' wedding ceremonies were usually held.

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