In ancient China people divided the night into five Gengs. A Geng was an ancient time unit used to divide the night, every Geng marked a Shichen (another time division unit which is the equivalent to two hours). The first Geng came at dusk and was called Xu (dog) (from 19:00-21:00) also known as the Ding Geng; the second Geng, marking the time people settled down for sleep, was called Hai (pig) Shi (from 21:00-23:00); the third Geng, Zi (rat) Shi, signalled the middle of the night (from 23:00-01:00); the fourth Geng was called Chou (ox) Shi (from 01:00-03:00); and Yin (tiger) Shi (from 03:00-05:00) which was the fifth Geng, also called the Liang Geng, marked the dawn of a new day. When the Ding Geng and Liang Geng were announced, the drum was to be beaten first, followed by the striking of the bell. When the second, third and fourth Geng were announced, only the bell was struck. As the bell of the first Geng (Xu Shi or Ding Geng) sounded every night, the gate of the city was closed and the traffic was stopped, which was called Jingjie which means "clearing the streets".
The harmonious principle of yin and yang is the key to Chinese design. As odd numbers represent yang (the preferred masculine element associated with the emperor), the numbers three, five, seven, and the ultimate odd number - nine, recur in architectural details. It is said that the Forbidden City has 9,999 rooms and, as nine times nine is especially fortunate, the doors for imperial use usually contain 81 brass studs.
On a Chinese currency note and in many written tablets in the Forbidden City, you can see the Manchu Script, beside the Chinese characters.
The Manchus from the northeast invaded China in 1644 and ruled China until 1911. For the first 200 years, they imposed Manchu as the main language before finally adopted Chinese as the official language.
Interesting to note that the Manchu script is based on the Mongolian script and written top down and left to right. Each alphabet has a initial, medial and final forms just like Arabic script.
Not sure which is harder to learn - Chinese characters or Manchu script.
From Qing Dynasty, The children of Ba Qi (Eight Flags) got a interest, that was Liu Niao. What is Liu Niao. Let me tell you. when peace started after war, we didn't need fight. So the Ba Qis had lots of free time, that time, Liu Niao began. They feed bird(Niao) in the beautiful cage, enjoy the voice of the bird. Now, local Beijingers succeed to that traditional, every morning, they take their birds to the park or hurst, enjoy the song of their birds and compare which one it's the best, the owner of the winer is proud. The birds are lark, throstle, cuckoo and so on. Now they are protected animals by the nation. The goverment said the person who feed them now and before can still feed, but the bird market couldn't sell them now. So in the 2008, it maybe disappear.
Everybody must have heard of wrapping a girl's feet not to let them grow. I thought that this custom belonged to the distant past, but in fact we spotted a few women having such 'little feet'. Here is one of them.
This Sunkiss Perfume billboard was erected for a Stephen Spielberg film that I can't remember the name of right now. I was being filmed in Shanghai. I spotted several other "props" for the movie too. The funny thing is that I didn't realize that they were props until the next day! I thought I had discovered some 50 year-old billboards!
The Imperial Palace is full of stories and fairy tales.
About the watch towers I have heard the following story:
When the walls of the Forbidden City were buiilt, they first had no towers. But then the emperor dreamed, that the walls had the most beautiful watch towers, one at each corner. So he gave the order to build those towers.
Two architects build very beautiful towers. But everytime they finished their work, the towers did not look like the ones, the emperor dreamed of. The emeperor was not satified with the managers and killed them and their craftsmen.
The third manager, he asked, had prepared himself. He knew, that, when he failed, he would be killed, too. He was very worried, when one day he saw an old man with a grasshopper in a cage. The cage was beautifully woven of thin sorghum stalks with eight sides and eight more at every corner. The roof was divided into three storeys: the first had upturned eaves on its four sides, and each of the four corners also had four small upturned eaves; the second was very much like the first, except that on its four small upturned eaves were four triangular ridgepoles; like the second, the third hat four triangular ridgepoles, but on the ridgepoles were four more triangular ridgepoles, and on each of them stood four level ridgepoles.
That cage looked exactly like the emperor had discribed his dream. The manager and his craftsmen built the watchtowers according to the cage. The emperor was satisfied and the craftsmen stayed alive.
On the photos you can see one of these watch towers to the right. The big building is one of the magazins of the palace.
Beijing has been the capital of numerous dynasties throughout its history, including the Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. With but few interruptions, the city has been China's capital almost continuously since AD 1272, when the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan established his political base there.
In 1420 it was made the official capital city of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), under the name of Beijing ('Northern Capital'). The city has becom an integral part of the country's history over the past eight centuries.