While yesterday was spent in the reconstruction of the Imperial Gardens in Kaifeng, today we visited the actual palace, or what remains of the vast complex from the Song Dynasty.
Dragons were thought to be the most powerful creature. This is called the Dragon Palace because only the emperor can use symbol of the dragon. no one else was allowed to.
And everywhere you can see dragons
From the door of the pavilion you can see the view across the lake. Notice the road dividing the lake in half. The two sides are like Yin and Yang.
Legend has it that the lake on the left was well maintained and clean like some of the courtier families in their service to the Emperor. They served with purity. The right hand lake however was dirty and not well cared for. This lake represents those courtiers who only serve the Emperor with words and platitudes but no good deeds. The wise Emperor knows that he needs both to be able to rule.
In the gardens was a large lotus pond. When all the flowers are in bloom it would look like a white carpet.
Then it was on to Lord Bao’s residence.
Lord Bao was a judge in Kaifeng from 1057 to 1058 who was famous for his adherence to justice and fairness. He took the civil service test and was one of three chosen in his year from the whole of China to serve the Emperor. He worked his way up gaining a reputation for steadfastness and honesty. He was so strong and stable that he was referred to as being ‘like iron’. As iron is a dark metal he became popularly depicted as having a black skin.
Here in this statue you can see one closed fist representing the way he dealt firmly with corruption at court and his relaxed open hand which shows how he treated the rest of the population.
Also interesting is the hat with the metre long projection from the back of hat. This was designed by the first Song Emperor who did not want his courtiers to whisper among themselves during the morning audience. He wanted to be able to hear everything they said. In effect this was a very early form of social distancing!!!
This particular dragon was quite interesting because it is actually a guillotine. Look carefully and you can see the blade with its handle.
Here Lord Bao is holding a piece of wood or bamboo in his hand. Only high courtiers carried these and the purpose was to ensure that they kept their eyes respectfully averted from the Emperor during their audiences. Plus they could write their briefing notes on it as prompts for their daily reports.