The Forbidden City

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The Forbidden City was home to China’s imperial family, as well as the seat of government, for almost five hundred years from 1420. The complex’s buildings and courtyards deliberately recall the solid-and-void relationship of yin and yang to achieve harmony and encourage qi. The Supreme Harmony complex accounts for 15 per cent of the entire Forbidden City, which in turn is 15 per cent of the old Imperial City. This proportional relationship reinforces the importance of concentric walled spaces in China and highlights the Forbidden City’s status as the symbolic centre of the civilised world. This is further reinforced by the ideograph for the Chinese cardinal point ‘centre’ (zhong), which can be read as a diagrammatic representation of a walled city bisected by a vertical line (the meridian line). This article also highlights what has happened to the complex, and its art collections, since it became a museum in 1925.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Urban and Regional Studies
EditorsAnthony M. Orum
ISBN (Electronic)9781118568446
ISBN (Print)9781118568453
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventInternational Convention of Asian Scholars - Leiden, Netherlands
Duration: 15 Jul 201919 Jul 2019
Conference number: 11


ConferenceInternational Convention of Asian Scholars
Abbreviated titleICAS


  • Forbidden City
  • architecture
  • heritage
  • symbolism


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