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Forbidden City
Inner Golden Water Bridge 内金水桥

The five bridges of Inner Golden Water Bridge 内金水桥 (Nèi Jīnshuǐ Qiáo) are shown against the backdrop of the city to the east. The bridges were wooden when the palace was first completed. They were later replaced with the present marble bridges.

The Golden Water River describes a serpentine shape as it passes through the city. The shape was inspired by geomancy to reflect the golden hats and jade ribbons embracing water. In the next picture you can see how the curve continues in the west section of the Forbidden City. It is like a giant jade belt running through the stones linking all together.

The water originated in White Floating Spring (Baifu Quan) in Changping. It flowed through Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace and from there it traveled in canals, parallel to Chang He (Long River), into Shicha Lake, and finally into the Golden Water River. It is called Golden Water River because in the Chinese system of five elements, water that flows from the west is associated with the element gold. Outside the Forbidden City, it has many other names, including "Pipe River" and "Jade River." When Beijing was first constructed, there were many rivers running through it and they were supplemented by canals to connect them. Gradually, they were covered and the water was accessed through wells. When the entire expanse of the river could be seen, it had the shape of a dragon, wide at the head, twisting and turning through the body, and narrowing at the tail.

China Index >> History of Beijing in Pictures >> Forbidden City

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Last update: January 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2009