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Gate of Supreme Harmony (Taihemen)

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Gate of Supreme Harmony, Forbidden City
Gate of Supreme Harmony, Forbidden City

As the largest gate of the Forbidden City, Gate of Supreme Harmony (Taihemen) is the main gate for the palaces in the outer court. It was initially built in the Yongle Reign of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). It was burnt down in 1888 and rebuilt in 1889. The Gate of Supreme Harmony is also the newest and the highest-grade gate of the Forbidden City, with a history of around 110 years.
There are four bronze tripods in front of the Gate of Supreme Harmony. They were cast in the Ming Dynasty as furnishings for a building. There is also a pair of bronze lions. The left one is male and the right one is female, appearing very mighty and valiant. This is the largest pair among the six pairs of bronze lions in the Forbidden City. 

Near the gate is a large courtyard of 26,000 square meters (2.6 hectares), with the Inner Golden River winding through from west to east. On the river are five stone bridges known as Inner Golden River Bridges. The central bridge was only for the emperor, while the side bridges were for officials. On both sides of the square were built with waiting room facing out for officials.
The Gate of Supreme Harmony was the place where the Ming Dynasty held morning court. In the Ming Dynasty, the emperor and officials would come to this gate to discuss the state affairs every morning. If it was a rainy, snowy or windy day, the court discussion would be postponed. In many Chinese TV plays and films, the emperor always had the morning court in a hall, which is in fact isn't the truth.

In ancient China, there were a strict discipline for the morning court. All of the civil and military officials would line on both sides of the imperial road in the courtyard near he Gate of Supreme Harmony. They would be in order from the highest to the lowest in rank. Usually, civil officials were on the east side, while the military officials were on the west. Anyone who coughed loudly or walked on the imperial road would be punished.

The imperial road is the central road on the square in front of the Gate of Supreme Harmony. It was paved with white marbles. Only the emperor could walk on it then. When the emperor passed by on the road, the civil and military officials aside had to bend in respect.

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