The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost 500 years, it served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government.
Built in 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings with 8,707 bays of rooms and covers 720,000 m2 (7,800,000 sq ft). The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere.
The common English name, "the Forbidden City", is a translation of the Chinese name Zijin Cheng 紫禁城 literally "Purple Forbidden City". Another English name of similar origin is "Forbidden Palace".
The name "Zijin Cheng" is a name with significance on many levels. Zi, or "Purple", refers to the North Star, which in ancient China was called the Ziwei Star, and in traditional Chinese astrology was the abode of the Celestial Emperor. The surrounding celestial region, the Ziwei Enclosure 紫微垣, was the realm of the Celestial Emperor and his family. The Forbidden City, as the residence of the terrestrial emperor, was its earthly counterpart. Jin, or "Forbidden", referred to the fact that no-one could enter or leave the palace without the emperor's permission. Cheng means a walled city.
Today, the site is most commonly known in Chinese as Gùgōng, 故宫.The museum which is based in these buildings is known as the "Palace Museum" 故宫博物院 Gùgōng Bówùyùan.
The site of the Forbidden City was situated on the Imperial City during the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. Upon the establishment of the Ming Dynasty, the Hongwu Emperor moved the capital from Beijing in the north to Nanjing in the south, and ordered that the Yuan palaces be burnt down. When his son Zhu Di became the Yongle Emperor, he moved the capital back to Beijing, and construction began in 1406 of what would become the Forbidden City.
Construction lasted 15 years, and required more than a million workers. Material used include whole logs of precious Phoebe zhennan wood (Chinese: 楠木; pinyin: nánmù) found in the jungles of south-western China, and large blocks of marble from quarries near Beijing. The floors of major halls were paved with "golden bricks" (Chinese: 金砖; pinyin: jīnzhuān), specially baked paving bricks from Suzhou.
From 1420 to 1644, the Forbidden City was the seat of the Ming Dynasty. In April 1644, it was captured by rebel forces led by Li Zicheng, who proclaimed himself emperor of the Shun Dynasty. He soon fled before the combined armies of former Ming general Wu Sangui and Manchu forces, setting fire to parts of the Forbidden City in the process. By October, the Manchus had achieved supremacy in northern China, and a ceremony was held at the Forbidden City to proclaim the young Shunzhi Emperor as ruler of all China under the Qing Dynasty. The Qing rulers changed the names on some of the principle buildings, to emphasise "Harmony" rather than "Supremacy", made the name plates bilingual (Chinese and Manchu), and introduced Shamanist elements to the palace.
In 1860, during the Second Opium War, Anglo-French forces took control of the Forbidden City and occupied it until the end of the war. In 1900 Empress Dowager Cixi fled from the Forbidden City during the Boxer Rebellion, leaving it to be occupied by forces of the treaty powers until the following year.
After being the home of 24 emperors – 14 of the Ming Dynasty and 10 of the Qing Dynasty – the Forbidden City ceased being the political centre of China in 1912 with the abdication of Puyi, the last Emperor of China. Under an agreement with the new Republic of China government, Puyi remained in the Inner Court, while the Outer Court was given over to public use, until he was evicted after a coup in 1924. The Palace Museum was then established in the Forbidden City in 1925. In 1933, the Japanese invasion of China forced the evacuation of the national treasures in the Forbidden City.
After the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, some damage was done to the Forbidden City as the country was swept up in revolutionary zeal. During the Cultural Revolution, however, further destruction was prevented when Premier Zhou Enlai sent an army battalion to guard the city.
The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 by UNESCO as the "Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties", due to its significant place in the development of Chinese architecture and culture. It is currently administered by the Palace Museum, which is carrying out a sixteen-year restoration project to repair and restore all buildings in the Forbidden City to their pre-1912 state.
Inside the Forbidden City (English with Chinese and English subtitles) (2005) DVD
nside the Forbidden City offers a panorama of the Forbidden City with a unique cultural focus, up-to-date manner of story-telling style and smooth narration. It also uncovers multitudinous unknown stories behind the high walls and shows countless invaluable treasures in the Palace. Moreover, Chinese ancient history and culture are reviewed and re-analyzed via the narration presented by the Hollywood director and actress Joan Chen. This DVD is the outcome of the effort from both China Central Television and National Geographic Channel s numerous senior producers. It is not only an essential chronicle of the Palace but also an expected classical audio-visual masterpiece.
I have watched the original CCTV six hours version of this epic production of THE FORBIDDEN CITY. It was way too long and too rhetorical, almost like attending a history class. The National Geographic/CCTV version is really a much more concise version...with a narrative flow that is much easier to follow. The new VO by Joan Chen was immeasurably better than the original English VO from a CCTV commentator...who sounded like a dull junior high history teacher. For me, this revised version is doing great justice to a monumental subject matter, making it more fun to watch and accessable to young and old audience worldwide. This DVD reflects a true synergy of western structure and eastern subject matter.
The Forbidden City 1940's
The Forbidden City
Inside The Forbidden City - 500 Years Of Marvel, History And Power (2008) DVD
Photographed completely in high definition, this epic series captures the complete history of the Forbidden City, surrounding the spectacular Chinese Imperial Palace. For five centuries it served as the home of 24 Emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government. This documentary explores the emperors, their politics, conflicts, its people and the vast majesty of the surviving buildings. Experience the extensive collection of artwork and artifacts which were built upon the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties and venture into its hidden secrets, discoveries, drama, romance and the day-to-day life of its inhabitants.