Can anything be done to the dead, for the dead, with the dead? Apparently the Buddhists think they can. One can buy paper money, paper Mercedes, paper mansions and burn these things and the dead could receive them. I remember the elaborate funerals of rich people while I was going to college in Singapore. The vigil lasts for days and the relatives would be camped with the deceased just as long. There was a huge procession of people coming and going until the actual day of the funeral, then the professional mourners come, the funeral band play, the Buddhist priests started their chants and they burn all kinds of funeral paraphernalia to send off with the dead. It was an expensive and elaborate affair.
Hanging out near a Tibetan temple, we happened upon this courtyard home. We asked a man there is we could come and take some pictures. He said, yes and here we were. This one is really pretty and authentic. It hasn't been donw up. Real people lives here, not some fat cat expatriate.
From the entrance of the Forbidden city we walked past a series of halls which has different functions. Most of them are empty, the contents have been looted over the years by all the upheavals in China. A lot has been removed by the fleeing Revolutionary people when the Communists came into power. These were taken across the sea to the island of Formosa, which today is called Taiwan. To the end of these halls is the Imperial garden, another huge and immense area. The buildings that houses the residents are to the left and right side. In its heyday it is a city unto itself, with the Royal families, the concubines, their families, the kitchen staff, and the 1200 eunuchs and palace guards. The best information given about life in the Forbidden city was of course still the last resident of the place, the last Emperor of China, Henry Pu Yi.
The throng of people visiting the Forbidden city, it was called Forbidden because no ordinary people was allowed in there only the Royal family and their workers. Not only that, during the reign of the last Emperor, because the Royal family were pure Manchus, only people of Manchurian descent were allowed in.
The yellow roof tiles, that Henry Pu Yi wrote about in his memoir.
For a long time I was baffled, where was Manchuria? The area just to the North and East of Beijing was Manchuria and the people from there were Manchurians. Manchuria does not exists anymore. Their people were sinicized years ago, they adopted the Chinese language and culture and therefore became indistinguishable from the the Han Chinese. In those days the Manchurian men wore a pigtail and they imposed this on the Han Chinese when they ruled over them. So when the Chinese men started to dispersed all over the world, they still wore their pigtails. My grandfather wore his pigtail when he landed in Borneo. He always told us, he brought his chain with him, the chain that bounded him in China, he brought to the new world.
This was the famed Forbidden city that we were finally allowed in to see. It is a whole city in and of itself, the scale is just immense. I have a confession, it is the most boring place I've ever visited. As the excitement mounts after we purchased our tickets to get in, once inside all I saw was every building looks the same. While they may have different function but they were built and decorated in the same way, therefore it lacked any charm. It was a huge anti climax. Sometimes as travelers, we may be guilty of hyping certain places because others before us have thought of them highly. Not for me, if I didn't care for anything, I'll express it.
Henry Puyi, the last emperor of China, in his memoir, wrote of the yellow tiled roofs and the red buildings that he was surrounded with all the time he lived in the Forbidden city.
Yellow is the color of the Emperor. The Chinese word, 'hwang' means yellow and also king. King and yellow are the same word in Chinese. In ' the last Emperor of China', Henry Puyi wrote, 'his cousin, one of his companions while he was young wore yellow in court one day, he was given a very severe beating...' Only the Emperor wore yellow!