The palace of the Qing Dynasty emperors is a major tourist attraction in the center of Beijing, immediately north of Tiananmen Square.
The Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tiananmen) is the gate the emperors used to enter
or leave the palace complex. After the revolution of 1949, the new Communist
rulers of China created a huge open space in front of the gate,
which could be used for parades and rallies, which they would watch from on top
of the gate. This is one of the few locations where a large portrait of Chairman
Mao is still on display.
The building above the gate.
The rows of little figures on roof corners were decorative, and symbolic
statements of rank (only the emperor could have a row of as many little figures as
this), but also they had a practical function, protecting from corrosion the nails
that held the roof tiles in place.
A shorter, somewhat unusual row of little roof figures.
I had read that around 1980, there had been garish and unattractive restoration work done on some of China's great cultural treasures. This looks like it might be an example of what the author was referring to.
Additional photos of palace complex
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Copyright © 2002, Edwin E. Moïse. Revised August 29, 2002.