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P7072775P7072759P7072874P7072850Leading up to the Hall of Preserving Harmony is the largest- or perhaps better described- longest stone carving of the Forbidden City.

The single piece of marble is intricately and symbolically carved with dragons- the symbol of celestial power and the Emperor. It forms a ramp flanked by two marble staircases and measures sixteen metres long (that’s over fifty two feet for my non-metric friends).

The Emperor was the only person permitted to travel over the carving and he would be carried up the ramp via a sedan chair.

The difficult task of hauling the large stone into position was performed by rolling it along carefully placed logs. In winter the task was completed by pulling the marble over man made ice trails. Sounds easy? Doubt it- the stone was hewn from the FangShan mountains approximately seventy five kilometres west of Beijing and the historic description of the journey suggests it took several seasons.

It makes me wonder which ancient Chinese herbal remedies were created for back ache as a direct result of this magnificent work of art?

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