Daily Digital – Guardian Figures

chinese guardian figures, forbidden city, beijing architecture, chinese architecture, Imperial Gardens Beijing

Imperial Gardens, The Forbidden City, Beijing – Guardian Figures


While walking the Imperial Gardens surrounding The Forbidden City in Beijing, we came across these figures along the sides of the roofs of the buildings. These are known as Guardian Figures. Protectors of sacred buildings, these creatures are displayed in a row with a god-like figure riding the one in front (in this case it looks like a rooster). It is believed that he has superior vision and hearing and can identify evil from afar and can then lead the rest of the animals to fend off the evil spirits. Typically, lions, phoenixes, dragons, and roosters are depicted and the more important, or sacred, the building the more animals added to the row of defenders.

While we were struck by many incredible buildings and important relics around the property, including giant the bronze and copper pots used for fire fighting, the guardian figures are something we noticed throughout our exploration of Beijing. From buildings in the Black Bamboo Park, to walking through and around the Beijing Night Market, we saw these figures on important buildings and decided to learn more about them to really appreciated their significance. While they aren’t listed in our 10 things to know about Beijing, we still think they are an important cultural and historical symbol to understand as you’ll most certainly see them perched atop many buildings… probably more so now that we’ve pointed them out!

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