|The throne in the Hall of Central Harmony 中和殿 (Zhōnghé Diàn) is low making it perfect for a succession of eunuchs to pass by so that the emperor could inspect the offerings or texts appropriate to the day. He would be surrounded by ministers and nobles, as well as family members.
When the emperor went to worship at the Temple of Heaven, the Altar of Earth, or the Altar of Land and Grain, the emperor had to examine the sacrificial writings a day before. The emperor also had to examine the seeds and farm tools before he personally went to the Altar of God of Agriculture to hold the plowing ceremony.
When he went to the Temple of Heaven, he would stay there in another miniature palace, fasting and praying for three days, before the ceremony. The Qing emperors were fastidious about the rites, for the most part. No matter how bad they were as administrators, the rites had to be observed.
Worship at the external alters began here, moved to the Hall of Supreme Harmony and then out of the palace along the meridian. The procession that marked the progress would include thousands of ministers, generals, military contingents, and musicians. The family of the emperor rode in carriages pulled by eunuchs, as did the emperor. Between this hall and the Temple of Heaven there are about three miles for the procession to display the devotion of the emperor. The Temple of Earth is further away, about five miles, depending on the route taken.
Last update: January 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2009