Forbidden City 07/05/2011
 
As I am sure you noticed, I was unable to blog while in China.  Internet and power were both factors.  However, I will be chronicling my journey over the next few days so stay tuned!
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The Forbidden City covers 7, 800,000 square feet of land and has 9, 999.5 rooms (pavillons count as half rooms).  It was built for one person, the Emperor.  It also housed his servants (all eunuchs), wives and concubines, all told around 3,000 people whose only purpose was to serve the Emperor.  No wonder he had a God complex.

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Since the Forbidden City was kept in its original state until 1912, when the Emperor fell, it looks just like it did when it was first built in the 1400s.  The paint is kept up, as well as the wood.  Most of the structures are wood.  The roof tiles are glazed with different colours according to what the building housed.  Only the Emperor's buildings could have these yellow tiles.  Libraries were black tiled, concubines' places were green tiled. 

There is an insane amount of symbolism to keep up with in China.  When you go through doors, women should enter with the right leg and men should enter with the left.  The door mantels were raised according to how high ranking you were.  Auspicious animals guard the corners of buildings, and the number depends on how high your social class is.  The Emperor gets 12.

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The most beautiful part of the Forbidden City, to me, is the courtyard.  If you ever saw the movie The Last Emperor, this courtyard is the one used for his coronation at the very beginning.  (If you haven't seen The Last Emperor, you should.  It's amazing.)
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The Forbidden City is beautiful and elegant.  However, I can't help but think it was also lonely.  When everyone around you is there to serve you, do you connect with anyone, really?  it must have been a difficult life.