The rug in the Hall of Supreme Harmony 太和殿 (Tàihé Diàn) continues the theme of dragons playing in the water. The rug covers one of the most attractive features of the palaces. The floor was paved with golden bricks, 金砖 (jīnzhuān), which were baked for 136 days and then immersed in tung oil for a further 40 some days to polish it permanently. They become so hard that when they are struck, they ring like a brick of gold. All of the main halls use the bricks, and those that have survived from the Ming Dynasty are still in pristine shape. The bricks were made in Suzhou with special clay. There are 4,718 bricks and each one cost the equivalent of a hundred liters of rice. That's about 26.5 gallons of rice. Now, imagine how many people that would feed and you will get the idea of the cost.
According to the United Nations, it takes 400 grams (about a half liter) of rice to feed a family of four two meals a day - assuming they have something else like vegetables to accompany the rice.
(The UN has a game site - yes, games. You play games to donate rice. By the way, you don't have to download the toolbar to play or enter your name or your e-mail. The site is called Free Rice. The link will take you to the FAQ.)
Last update: January 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2009