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The Temple of Heaven: Reverence with Awe and Gratitude (part2)

The Temple of Heaven: Reverence with Awe and Gratitude (part2)
Holding Nature in Awe
The architecture of the buildings in the Temple of Heaven ingeniously embodies the concept of holding nature in awe. While blue is the thematic color, the three main structures of the Temple of Heaven all stand on triple-terraced white foundations. The colors used invoke a strong sense of purity and sublimity-qualities the Chinese attribute to Heaven.
The Temple of Heaven is supposed to be close to Heaven. Careful visitors will notice the centripetal structures of the two main buildings, the Circular Mound Altar and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. This type of architecture gives one a sense of reaching up to Heaven while ascending the steps.
The Circular Mound Altar, as its name suggests, is a round structure with three tiers. When you ascend the steps to the altar, no matter from which of the four directions, you find yourself entering a centripetal world. On the top tier, you find a round stone at the center surrounded by circle after circle of blue flagstones fanning out. The round stone represents the heart of Heaven and is aptly called "Heavenly Heart Stone." The tablet representing Heaven was placed on this stone when the emperor offered oblations on the Winter Solstice.
The process of approaching the Heavenly Heart Stone represents the process of approaching Heaven. The Circular Mound Altar has no physical roof, but is covered only by the boundless sky.

Humanity and Heaven in Communion
Ancient Chinese believed that people could communicate with Heaven, and the Temple of Heaven was built to enable this. The echo of sound at the Circular Mound Altar and the Imperial Vault of Heaven are evidence of what our forebears believed to be communicating with Heaven.
If you stand on the Heavenly Heart Stone on the Circular Mound Altar, you can hear your voice rise from underneath your feet and echo back from the wall around the Altar. The resounding echo, according to the designers, represents Heaven's reply to whatever the speaker asks for.
When you stand inside the outer wall of the Imperial Vault of Heaven, and speak into the wall, a friend at a point farther away along the wall can hear your voice; it resembles making a phone call to someone. This phenomenon, due to the much shorter length of the sound waves compared to the radius of the round wall, gave rise to the nickname "echo wall" for the outer rim of the Vault.
 

 



 
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