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In Which Chinese Walls are Investigated

I spent a certain amount of time in Guangzhou sitting on a couch and watching The Good Wife and The Borgias.  In the air-conditioing, while a machine washed my clothes and people brought me food.  It was glorious.  That's not important.  The important thing is the characters in The Good Wife keep using the phrase "Chinese wall" as a metaphor for interdepartmental non-communication.  Now I understand why.  The Forbidden City has walls around everything.  Not that the walls aren't pretty and everything, but it makes for a bewildering array of structures cut off from everything else and each other, leaving the tourist trapped in an imposing maze of red and gold.

The approach to the Forbidden City used to to be guarded by many more walls, of which now only the gates remain.

Mao's visage now guards the gate to the Forbidden City.  

The guardhouses above the gates are elaborate.  

The number of knob things on the door increases with rank.
Touching them on the way in is sort of analogous to kissing
the important person's ring.  
All these people would have been executed for entering back
in the day.  
All the buildings have pretty roofs.

And pretty everything else.

The city is guarded by gigantic bronze lions.

The tiles in the courtyards are 6 layers deep, because paranoia. 

sun dial! 


Giant bowl for pretty fires at night, I think.  

The water spouts. 

Beshrubbed wall.  
There are massive carved pavements.  The largest one was transported by digging wells, waiting till winter, then sliding it 28 miles or so over ice.

Pretty dragon wall!

Of course the ceiling shows a dragon and a pearl, what else would it show?
Bells for imperial music.

Pretty wall things.  
There were tons of fancily carved things, including little carved mountains of jade, complete with jade people with jade things.  Eventually, it becomes just dumb.  While the rest of the world was exploring and sciencing, they were sitting behind walls with pretty rocks.  One of the emperors, according to my friend and impromptu tour guide, when presented by some Europeans with navigational things, said he had no need of such because he already owned the world.  The last empress could have funded an army to hold off the Europeans, but she spent it on her birthday party instead.

Inaccurate but pretty star globe thing.  

The Forbidden City also gets depressing with the relentless imposing prettiness and the little greenery around is very manicured and ordered.  This is not a place where people were happy. Even if it wasn't usually as bad as the well where cheerful signage announced that a rival concubine to the last empress was thrown down during the confusion of invasion.  

One of the more cheerful things, though, was that the imperial family had their own private theatre!

 A scale model cross section was provided for the enlightenment of tourists.

One of the few nice green spots.  The imperials liked their weird looking rocks more than their greenery, though.

Next up: more and greater walls.

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