The famous Qing and Ming dynasties of Cihna are said to have made use of this shrine initially set up in the 15th century by the Yongle Emperor and later expanded to perform sacrifices as was expected by the locals during the imperialist era. People were of the belief that the incumbent emperor was the mediator between earth and heaven. The Temple of Heaven was one among a quadruple of similar monasteries developed during the time, the others being the Temples of the Moon, the Earth and the Sun.
It is within the Prayer Hall at this temple that the emperor would pray for a good harvest during the Winter Solstice ceremony on completion of three days of fasting. This was ensued by animal sacrifices which had to be completed with meticulous perfection as a single error or mishap was considered to bring about misfortune for the entire nation. Commoners were prohibited from watching the procession that carried the Emperor to the temple or involving themselves in the supposedly holy actions. Instead they had to bolt themselves indoors until the rites and rituals were completed by the royal and his envoys.
The architecture of the building reflects the olden day conviction that the Earth was a square and that Heaven was round. In line with this misled understanding, the main building of the holy premises is circular in shape and tiled in blue to make it resemble heaven. The intrinsic influence of feng shui was seen even during that day and age in Chinese constructions, as is very much the case at the Temple of Heaven as well.
Today the sanctified grounds stand recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage and is open to the public as a park for recreational activities. The acres that spread out around the temple’s main structure are well pruned and maintained by the authorities.
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