Tian An Men Square

M. A. Aldrich

in The Search for a Vanishing Beijing

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9789622097773
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207585 | DOI:
Tian An Men Square

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This chapter starts with a discussion on Old Peking at the south end of Tian An Men Square. Standing back-to-back, as if they refuse to acknowledge each other's existence, are two large buildings. One was built by the emperor who gave Peking its imperial status and the other by the man who tore out that status, root and branch. To the south stands the Gate of the Pure Sun, now only consisting of the Main Gate and its outer Arrow Gate. To the north, the central door of the Main Gate was opened twice a year for the emperor's procession to the Altar of Heaven and the Altar of Agriculture. For both Yong Le and Mao, Peking was a tangible symbol of their respective reigns. While Yong Le strove to emphasize Peking's continuity with the past, Mao wanted to show that heaven and earth had been turned upside down. The events depicted on the bas-reliefs after a slight digression are described. In addition, a depiction of the May 1st Movement of 1919 where Peking students and citizens protested the terms of the Treaty of Versailles Conference is illustrated.

Keywords: Tian An Men Square; Peking; Yong Le; Mao; Treaty of Versailles Conference; Gate of the Pure Sun; Altar of Heaven; Altar of Agriculture

Chapter.  7940 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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