|This dragon head is in the center of the bottom section of the stone stairway of the Hall of Preserving Harmony 保和殿 (Bǎo Hé Diàn). Notice how the dragons are washed by the waves as they play in the water in this picture and the next two detail pictures. The artists also planned their patterns to both disperse and drain rain water from the sculpture. There is very little standing water left after a downpour. The water drains from all sides and at various places in the design, so that there isn't an erosion channel after more than 200 years. Below, there is a detail of a drain worked into the pattern.
In 1761, Qianlong had the stone scraped to remove the original Ming patterns. He then had it carved with nine dragons with a lotus pattern frame. The stone must have been very heavy and thick to begin with.
Last update: January 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2009