Archive for the 'China' Category

25
Mar
11

Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China: The Largest City Square in the World

Tiananmen square is a large city square and the geographical centre of Beijing, China. It is named after the Tiananmen Gate (literally, Gate of Heaven’s Pacification) located to its north, separating it from the Forbidden City.

Tiananmen Square is the largest city square in the world (440,000 m² – 880m by 500m). It has great cultural significance as it was the site of several important events in Chinese history. The Tiananmen square was designed and built in 1651, and has since enlarged four times its original size in the 1950s. In November 1958 a major expansion of Tiananmen Square started, which was completed after only 10 months, in August 1959. This followed the vision of Mao Zedong to make the square the largest and most spectacular in the world, and intended to hold over 500,000 people. In that process, a large number of residential buildings and other structures have been demolished.

The year after Mao’s death in 1976, a Mausoleum was built near the site of the former Gate of China, on the main north-south axis of the square. In connection with this project, the square was further increased in size to become fully rectangular and being able to accommodate 600,000 persons. The urban context of the square was altered in the 1990s with the construction of National Grand Theatre in its vicinity and the expansion of the National Museum.

Tiananmen Square has been the site of a number of political events and student protests. These include the famous Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989. These 1989 protests resulted in the massacre of Chinese protesters in the streets to the west of the square and adjacent areas. There are reports where soldiers opened fire on protesters, killing 400–800, and perhaps many more. Eyewitness accounts of the events on the night of June 3 and the early morning of June 4, 1989 continue to emerge from former student leaders and intellectuals, broadening the scope of the original reporting of the massacre by Western media outlets. This was the scene for the iconic image of Tank Man, where a column of PLA tanks was stopped in its tracks by a protester. No one knows if the man in the image is still alive.  Some Western reporters who were on the square during the unfolding events reported that they saw no one actually die on the square itself, though they did see bloodied people but could not confirm whether they were dead or injured.

23
Mar
11

The Temple of Heaven in Beijing – the largest heaven-worshipping architecture in the world

The Temple of Heaven is seen as the most holy of Beijing’s imperial temples. It has been described as “a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design” which simply and graphically illustrates a cosmogony of great importance for the evolution of one of the world’s great civilizations.

It is much bigger than the Forbidden City and smaller than the Summer Palace with an area of about 2,7 million square meters. The Temple was built in 1420 A.D. during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to Heaven. As Chinese emperors called themselves ‘The Son of Heaven’, they dared not to build their own dwelling ‘Forbidden City’ bigger than a dwelling for Heaven. The Temple of Heaven is enclosed with a long wall. The northern part within the wall is semicircular symbolizing the heavens and the southern part is square symbolizing the earth. The northern part is higher than the southern part. This design shows that the heaven is high and the earth is low and the design reflected an ancient Chinese thought of ‘the heaven is round and the earth is square’.

The Temple is divided by two enclosed walls into inner part and outer part. The main buildings of the Temple lie at the south and north ends of the middle axis line of the inner part. The most magnificent buildings are The Circular Mound Altar, Imperial Vault of Heaven and Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest from south to north. Also, there are some additional buildings like Three Echo Stones and Echo Wall. Almost all of the buildings are connected by a wide bridge called Vermilion Steps Bridge or called Sacred Way.

The Circular Altar has three layered terraces with white marble. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 A.D. – 1911 A.D.), the emperors would offer sacrifice to Heaven on the day of the Winter Solstice every year. This ceremony was to thank Heaven and hope everything would be good in the future. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest is a big palace with round roof and three layers of eaves. Inside the Hall are 28 huge posts. The four posts along the inner circle represent the four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter; the 12 posts along the middle circle represent the 12 months; and 12 posts along the outer circle represent 12 Shichen (Shichen is a means of counting time in ancient China. One Shichen in the past equaled two hours and a whole day was divided into 12 Shichens). The roof is covered with black, yellow and green colored glaze representing the heavens, the earth and everything on earth. The Hall has a base named Altar for Grain Prayers which is made of three layers of white marble and has a height of six meters.

In 1998, the Temple of Heaven was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. In early 2005, the Temple of Heaven underwent a 47 million yuan (5 million €) renovation that was completed on May 1st, 2006.

03
Feb
11

February 3rd: Chinese New Year 2011

Chinese New Year begins according to the Chinese calendar which consists of both Gregorian and lunar-solar calendar systems. Because the track of the new moon changes from year to year, Chinese New Year can begin anytime between late January and mid-February.

The Lunar New Year dates from 2600 BC, when the Emperor Huang Ti introduced the first cycle of the Chinese zodiac.

Because of cyclical lunar dating, the first day of the year can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February. On the Chinese calendar, 2011 is Lunar Year 4709.

On the Western calendar, the start of the New Year falls on Thursday, February 3, 2011 — The Year of the Rabbit.

If you were born in 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, or 2011 – you were born under the sign of the rabbit.