It seems my weekly photo challenges have been quite building-centric the past few weeks. This week I have gone with a building again (surprise!) though this time the rooftop only. The topic this week was Converge – the theme of geometry, shapes, diagonals and vanishing points. I took this photo earlier this year when I was in Beijing, visiting the Forbidden City – what some may call the Holy Land of the Chinese people.
Here the roofs of the various temples and buildings overlap and converge. If you look carefully, each roof is adorned with a row of small figures – the Imperial Roof Decoration along the ridges on each corner. Every temple we visited had these beautiful figurines decorating them, still shining with their ceramic glaze. These figurines were reserved for official buildings of the empire.
Each process is always lead by a man riding a Phoenix and an imperial dragon, representing authority of the state, at the tail of the procession. In between these two figurines are mythical beasts – including evil-dispelling bull, courageous goat-bull, wind- and storm-summoning fish, mythical lion, auspicious seahorse, heavenly horse, lion, and chiwen (a son of dragon). The beasts are there to pounce upon the man at the lead, and devour him should he stray from performing his duties with faithfulness and rectitude. The number of beasts within the procession, usually odd, indicates the importance of the duties performed within that building (or courtyard protected by the gate) with the maximum number being nine. This of course made for endless minutes on our holiday counting the number of figurines atop the rooftop ridges, trying to discern the importance of the buildings we were viewing – no matter how many we counted though, they were all beautiful.