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ARCHITECTURE & ICONOGRAPHY

 

 

 

  Chinese Imperial roof decoration (China)

 

China

Chinese Imperial roof decorations at the Emperor's Hall of Supreme Harmony in the Forbidden City (fig.). It has the highest possible level of nine Chinese Imperial roof deco-rations, which are preceded and followed by some additional figures.

 

 

 

  Chinese Imperial roof decoration (China)

 

The preceding statuette is of an immortal riding a fenghuang, i.e. a mythical bird similar to a phoenix, a symbol of virtue. The row of nine is then followed by an additional rooftop figure known as a Hangshi, i.e. a sword-wielding, monkey-faced immortal guardian that wards off demons and whose name literally means ‘ranks tenth’, whereas this Hangshi is in turn is followed by an imperial dragon, a symbol of imperial authority. Their function is evil-dispelling and all-but-two are squatted, quadrupeds, the odd ones out being a fish and a mythical bird-like creature which are situated fourthly and secondly, respectively in the row of nine.

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