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              Imperial Palace
              Learn Chinese - History and Culture


              The imperial palace, the official residence of the emperor and his family, is the most vital architecture in ancient China.
              There were certain architectural features that were reserved solely for buildings built for the Emperor of China. One example is the use of yellow roof tiles; yellow having been the Imperial color, yellow roof tiles still adorn most of the buildings within the Forbidden City (gù gōng 故宮). The Temple of Heaven (tiān tán 天壇), however, uses blue roof tiles to symbolize the sky.

              dougongThe roofs are almost invariably supported by brackets (dòu gǒng 斗拱), a feature shared only with the largest of religious buildings. The wooden columns of the buildings, as well as the surface of the walls, tend to be red in color. Black is also a famous color often used in pagodas. They believe the gods are inspired by the black color to descend on to the earth.
              Zoomorphic decorations can be found everywhere in the palace complex, even on the roofs. Dragons, phoenixes, lions, elephants, and many mythical animals were used to display the overwhelming imperial majesty or to ward off evil sprits. The Chinese five-clawed dragon, adopted by the first Ming emperor for his personal use, was used as decoration on the beams, pillars, and on the doors on Imperial architecture. Curiously, the dragon was never used on roofs of imperial buildings.
              Numerology heavily influenced Imperial Architecture, hence the use of nine in much of construction (nine being the greatest single digit number) and reason why The Forbidden City in Beijing is said to have 9,999.9 rooms - just short of the mythical 10,000 rooms in heaven. The importance of the East (the direction of the rising sun) in orienting and siting Imperial buildings is a form of solar worship found in many ancient cultures, where the notion of Ruler is affiliated with the Sun.
              roofThe imperial palace complex in ancient China was usually divided into two parts. The front part was for the emperor to meet his ministers and talk about state affairs, while the rear was used for residential purposes only. The main buildings were all built along a central south-north axis, while auxiliary buildings stood symmetrically on each side. Row upon row of courtyards and lines after lines palatial halls demonstrated regal uniformity, solemnity and dignity.
              Most of the palace buildings adopted large sloping roofs. The roof was not only decorative, but also protective, as the overhang with upturned corners ensured that rain water would flow along the roof grooves and fall into places far from the wooden structures of the building. Zoomorphic ornaments on the upturned roof corners were intend to add a sense of mystery to the place, and moreover, served a practical purpose in fastening the roof and keeping water out. The roofs were made of glazed golden tiles. Since this color was a symbol of imperial power, it could only be used by the imperial family.


              The Temple of Heaven????? 宮殿是帝王朝會和居住的地方,以其巍峨壯麗的氣勢、宏大的規模和嚴謹整飭的空間格局,給人以強烈的精神感染,突現帝王的權威。同西方相比,在古代中國這個以儒教為國教的君主制國家,宮殿是古代最重要的建筑。
              ????? 中國宮殿建筑主要通過三種藝術手法來表現:一是在建筑的“量”上顯出差別,即比起其他建筑,宮殿建筑群內的建筑體量最大,數量也最多;二是在群體布局上強調所謂“中正無邪”即中軸對稱方式,最尊貴的建筑總是放到中軸線上,較次要的放在兩邊,成為它的陪襯;三是把這種布局擴大而至全部都城,進一步烘托宮殿的重要。所以中國的宮殿與都城的關系往往密不可分,其發展正是以上觀念不斷充實完善的過程。
              ????? 自中國春秋時代(公元前770年~公元年476年)起,從遺址和實物看,大體分兩個階段。自春秋至唐代,宮城大多在都城中,宮城的一邊或兩邊靠近城墻;有的則在都城外,附著一邊城墻或一個城角;甚至有分建兩城的。這方面的實例有臨淄齊國故城、鄭韓故城、邯鄲趙國故城、西漢長安城、東漢和北魏洛陽城、曹魏鄴城、隋唐長安城和洛陽城等的宮城或宮殿區。
              ????? 另一個階段,是從北宋(公元960年~公元1127年)起,北宋開封城、金中都、元大都城、明中都、明清北京城,宮城處在都城之中,四面為城區所包圍。
              ????? 宮殿建筑從殷商時期(公元前17世紀~公元前11世紀)就有,到秦統一全國后,建造了大批宮殿。從此,宮殿建筑步入繁盛時期,歷史上著名的宮殿有秦阿房宮、西漢長樂宮、未央宮、唐大明宮等等。到現在,保存最完整的,就是位于北京的明清代的皇宮-紫禁城故宮,它是中國現存最宏偉壯麗的古代建筑群。
              ????? 紫禁城采取嚴格對稱的院落式布局,按使用功能分區,依用途和重要程度有等差、有節奏地安排建筑群的體量和空間形式,代表中國古代建筑組群布局的最高水平。其中建筑雕梁畫柱、金碧輝煌,是中國古代建筑的瑰寶。


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