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Appellations of the Forbidden city


The Forbidden City has several names, according to who names it: In the West it is known instead as the "Forbidden City of Beijing", but the Chinese call it rather "palace museum", with reference to the fact that it is above all a museum, which we tend to forget, we Europeans. When they erase the "museum" aspect of these buildings, they call it only "The Old Palace". But his real name is: Forbidden Purple City


View on the forbidden city

View on the forbidden city


The Chinese meaning of the name

Chinese writing uses 3 ideograms to name the Forbidden City: One for "City", another for "Purple" and the third for "Forbidden". They are pronounced Cheng Jin Zi according to our European linguistic criteria. Purple Forbidden City. This name calls for three reflections: First, we are in the presence of a city and not a palace, as we are used to say. It must be said that with a population of 10,000 inhabitants at the highest on an area of ​​72 hectares, this geographical area is indeed a city in the city. The second remark concerns the word "forbidden", which means what he says. This palace was really forbidden, and to protect itself, it was surrounded by 3.5 km of ramparts 10 m high. Finally the third reflection is on the purple color, which refers to the purple star which is the polar star in the Chinese imagination. The polar star, the only star to be fixed in the sky, is the center of everything, and by extension the Chinese have taken it as a reference on the perfect order. It is the order of everything that allows the harvest to mature, it is always this order that ensures the longevity of the emperor, the security of the people. The purple color was therefore at the center of the Chinese organization for centuries. This color, it is found in painting on the buildings of the forbidden city, we are called more willingly "Red".


Chinese appellation

If you ask a Chinese forbidden city, you will need to know its pronunciation, here it is: Cheng Jin Zi. But if he does not understand, do not be surprised and remember that they are more likely to use the term "Old Palace", which is called "Gùgōng". And if he really does not understand, try "Wu Men" is the name of the Meridian gate, the main gate of the palace.



See also:

The pavilions

Description of the forbidden city




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