The eastern capital

Within the city certain elements always stayed fixed: Th hall of audience was a very important structure in the city- where the emperor received his subjects. IT always faced south and was in a central position. The ancestral temple should face east and be in the east of the city. The alters of grain or the alter of the earth should be on the west, facing west. The market should be to the North.

So this text was used in the creation of many cities, one of which is Changan. Although in Changan it was not used rigidly. Infact the Han dynasty who first founded changan didn’t stick closely to the principles. (OHP)The walls were not fully regular and the gridiron streets and entrances had changed. Plus they orientated the PALACE sections A-Symmetrically. Another change they made was a new system of housing called Luli. This created neighborhoods, governed by an office in each ward. Markets were lined along the east and west sides of the main thoroughfare. This moved away from the Kaogongji but was convenient for the people to go to markets. According to the records of Changan (known as the Changan zhi) The streets looked like a checker board –and lined with buildings looked straight as an arrow, was hitherto unknown in the imperial cities.

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One of the smaller dynasties that originated from the Han was the Wu and they created the southern capital of Jiankang, near the Yanggtze river. This his city stuck more closely to the Kaogongji (OHP) In 581ad the Sui and Tang dynasties created Louyang- ‘the eastern capital’ A big city of 500,000, used a regular grid and again used wards but was unlike the Luli unit of housing. It also used the ideals of walls within walls to create an internal ‘imperial city and forbidden city.’ One change made which was not mentioned at all in the Kaogongji was the addition of a watercourse, which enforced the axis in the city. (OHP)

This finally brings me onto the most recent of the imperial cities. Beijing. This city was originally known as Dadu and was founded under the Yuan Dynasty. It was surely the largest of these cities. The Yuan were Mongolian but used the Zhou ritual (Kaogongji) to legitimize their rule in china. A magnificent city enclosed with a wall and moat, with the palace centrally located. All the major roads led to gateways and between the major streets were residential lanes. The major building groups were the palace ensemble and courts on the main axis. The Ancestral hall and alters were located at its sides, completely conforming to tradition.

Two dynasties which followed the Yuan and this time stayed in Beijing as their capital were the Ming in 1553, who redeveloped it on the foundations of Dadu. To reinforce defense works an attached city was added to the south which enclosed markets, temples and alters. Thus creating three cities within, imperial, inner and outer city. The Qing Dynasty also used this city in there rise in 1644.

The design of Beijing expressed the idea that the emperor represented heaven and symbolized his domination over the people. In china the city planning ideals were very continuous throughout their history. They very much represented the idea that the sky is round and the land is square idea. In these cities some amazing private gardens were used for the rich and for the palaces and imperial cities. The poorer housing was very organized. The high walls around the palace represented seclusion and control of the people. That was also expressed in the Luli unit and the houses within it. Basically the idea that one Luli unit was controlled by their own central office.But mostly the Chinese values in town planning expressed a longing for harmony, found in horizontal axis and positions of objects according to the Kaogongji and feng shui principles.

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