Temples of Emperors throughout the Dynasties

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Introduction

Lidai Diwang Miao (Temples Of Emperors throughout the Dynasties) which was built in 1530 was strategically located at the western part of Beijing inner city wall, around Fucheng Men. It was the temples for emperors from both Ming and Qing Dynasty to worship their ancestors. The status of Lidai Diwang Miao is basically similar to the Tai Miao (Imperial Ancestral Temple) and Kong Miao (Temple of Confucius or Confucian temple). These three temples are also known as the three major Imperial Temples for Ming and Qing Dynasty throughout Beijing city. Moreover, it is also the only temple which was previously the imperial temples where sacrificial ceremonies for emperors throughout the dynasties as well as the contributed ministers were taken place. Thus, it is the most significant evidence for the development of the history of China as well as the flow of the dynasties throughout the centuries.

The ancestors worshipping is one of the ancient practice which played a very important role among the Chinese society ever since the feudal empire in ancient China. In ancient China, the people believed that the Three Sovereigns (Fuxi (A culture hero reputed to be the inventor of writing, fishing, and trapping), Huang Di or Yellow Emperor (A legendary Chinese sovereign and cultural hero who is considered in Chinese mythology to be the ancestor of all Han Chinese) and Yan Di or Emperor Yan (A ruler of China and culture hero who taught ancient China the practices of agriculture)) were the ancestors of the Chinese. For this reason, the emperors throughout the centuries had worshipped these Three Sovereigns. Later, in order to show the highness position as the King of the Earth, the emperors also aligned themselves into the list of ancestors worshipping.

In early Ming Dynasty, the first emperor of Ming Dynasty, the Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang had set the numbers of emperors to be worshipped as eighteen. Later in Qing Dynasty, the Emperor Shunzhi had then increased the amount to be 25 after the capital of Qing Dynasty had transferred to Beijing. Within the reign of Emperor Kangxi, Emperor Qianlong and Emperor Yongzheng of Qing Dynasty, these three emperors had put very high attention on the development of Lidai Diwang Miao. Throughout the 380 years from 1532 until the decline of Qing Dynasty, a total of 662 time sacrificial offering ceremonies had been taken place in Lidai Diwang Miao.

Lidai Diwang Miao has covered an area of 18 thousands square meters with over 6,000 square meters for the area of ancient architecture building. The huge area of the temple as well as the overall settings of the architectures had all expressed the dignity and solemn of the imperial family. The major architectures which located along the central north south axis consists of Yingbi (Shadow Wall), Jingde Street Archway, Shiqiao (Stone Bridge), Xiama Bei, Shan Men (Hill Gate), Jingde Men, Jingde Chongsheng Dadian, Jiqi Ku (Sacrificial Equipment Store) when listed from the south towards the north.

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