August 25, 2009

Temple of Heaven

Heaven. Earth. Sun. Moon.

Four elemental temples are scattered around Beijing, with the Temple of Heaven the most spectacular of the quartet. The name of the temple in Chinese is Tiantan, which translates to "Altar of Heaven". On a cloudless summer's day, I wandered its grounds for several hours. As the sun shined up above, beads of sweat graced my forehead. Rivulets of perspiration slowly trickled downwards, tracing the symmetric lines of my face. Effortlessly combining aesthetic principles and cultural values, the design of the temple was similarily well thought out. Squares, representing earth, and circles, representing heaven, serve as the chief design motifs for impressive structures within the temple complex such as the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven, the Echo Wall, and the Circular Mound Altar.


“My soul can find no staircase to heaven unless it be through earth's loveliness.”
- Michelangelo -