ARTIST RESIDENCY CHINA — BEIJING, no. 12
Emperors and retinue of the Ming and Qing dynasties used Tiāntán — Temple of Heaven — annually to perform complex and lengthy ritual ceremonies for the worship of heaven to insure a year of good harvest. The circular wooden altar has been rebuilt many times. It was occupied, damaged, and looted by the Anglo-French Alliance in the 1850s, again by the Eight-Nation Alliance in 1900, and burnt to the ground by lightening strike in 1889. Preparations for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 directed considerable resources to renovation of cultural sites throughout the city. Original construction of the altar and outer wall was completed in 1420 and expanded in succeeding centuries to include the marble circular mound, an animal sacrifice altar. Elaborate symbolism and numerology relating to the order of heaven, earth, and human activity govern all aspects of the architectural and garden design. The site has been a public park since 1918.
Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
no nails in the entirely wooden building
animal sacrifice braziers and oven
roses are everywhere in Beijing in May
circular tower (Heaven) on square base (Earth)
Yellow Emperor era altar model, circa 2698 to 2598 BC
Double Ring Longevity Pavilion
If you would like to be completely alone in a giant cultural relic at the height of tourist season in the third most populous city in the world — currently 21,516,000 people, pay the extra dollar and half US for entrance to the Palace of Abstinence, where emperors fasted for three days prior to the main events in the elaborate worship of heaven rituals at Tiāntán.
Palace of Abstinence moat
Divine Music Administration
long raised imperial walk between altars — Tiāntán tower seen beyond the gate looking north
Imperial Vault of Heaven within Echo Wall
Monkey King makes an appearance
people like to have their pictures taken at the center of the center of the circular marble animal sacrifice altar
seal script engraved marble
typically polite request and Chinese-English language comparison: “Repair thus to inconvenience you please understanding”
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