Tiantan Prepares to Please the Gods

created: 2011-01-30

To celebrate Spring Festival (Chinese Lunar New Year), a spectacular ceremony of worship will be held in Tiantan Park, or the Temple of Heaven, from Feb 3 to 7.
As part of the Seventh Temple of Heaven Cultural Week, Tiantan Park will host the Worshipping Heaven ceremonies of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties for the park's visitors.
The performance will include both dance and music performances, and will be based on the historical records of the Qianlong period of the Qing Dynasty.
More than 280 performers, wearing Qing Dynasty costumes, will act as the emperor, officials, honor guards, dancers and musicians.
Despite being an annual event, this year's ceremony is being billed as the closest to the original and should be a great opportunity for visitors to witness a piece of history.
The Worshipping Heaven ceremony was the most important national ceremony of ancient China.
Ming and Qing dynasty emperors were known to hold the ceremony at the Temple of Heaven every year, with prayers for good harvests.
According to historical records, the emperors would depart from the Forbidden City, accompanied by a procession of guards of honor made up of elephants, horse-drawn carriages, the golden canopy and the emperor's jade palanquin.
The procession was followed by the emperor's personal guards, then the country's most powerful officials, carrying leopard-tailed spears, ritual broad swords, bows and arrows.
The emperor traditionally offered holy wine to the God of Heaven and then to his ancestors for a good harvest. A performance of dances ensued after which the emperor concluded the ceremony by praying for peace and happiness for his people.
Built from 1406 to 1420 in the Ming Dynasty, the Temple of Heaven was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.

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