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Nine-Dragon Screen Guide

-Travel to Nine-Dragon Screen

Located in the southern side of Dong Street, is the Nine-Dragon Screen built for the Prince Hongwu, the 13th son of the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty. It is presently the oldest and largest glazed screen in China and even before 350 years. It is three times larger than the one in Beihai Park, Beijing City.The screen is made up of yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white and other colored glaze. It can be divided into three parts such as the pedestal, body and roof. The picture depicts the blue sky, the rising sun and moon in the east and west of the screen respectively. The picture also shows flowing water and cloud.  The life-like glass glazed animals are inlaid in different postures and arranged in two layers on the border of the pedestal. The first layer consists of giraffe, lion, tiger, deer and Pegasus while small dragons are inlaid on the second layer.There is a stroke of green wave on the lower part and a blue and yellow cloud on the upper part of the glazed screen. The nine dragons flowing amidst cloud, fog, water and mountain gives a dreamy effect. The glazed screen altogether and especially the body of the nine dragons are produced in a third dimension.

Made from 426 fire glazed bricks, this screen is 8 meters high, 45 meters long and 2 meters thick. The screen is comprised of three parts, which are the pedestal, the main body and the roof. Containing 75 tiles the pedestal’s height is 2.09 meters and has images of animals like oxen, dogs, rabbits etc are carved on it. These carved images are present right at the center of the pedestal. The main body consists of nine dragons that are carved across it. They have golden scales and shiny eyes. Eight other dragons each of which convey a meaning surrounds a central dragon. On both side of the chief dragon are yellow colored dragons. Their heads point towards eastern side and tails point towards the central dragon. Next there is a pair of deep yellow dragons who have there tails and heads pointed towards west. The third pair of dragons is purple in color and they appear to be fighting and tugging with the sea. The fourth pair comprises of elegant yellow colored dragons.

As a symbol of the ancient emperors of China, the dragons were depicted fighting and frolicking in the clouds above the blue sea. According to Chinese superstition, ghosts and devils can only travel in straight lines, so these magnificent screens were placed before residency gates in order to keep them off. The Nine Dragon Screen was built more than six hundred years ago, and is not only larger than the nine-dragon screen in Beijing's Beihai Park, but three hundred years older. The 45 meters long by 8 meters high glazed-brick structure has nine dragons sculptured in relief in five colors. The nine dragons are vividly portrayed as if flying in the air. Of the nine, the center dragon is considered the most impressive, its glazed eyes staring fixedly off into the distance. Besides the Nine Dragon Screen, there are also a five dragon screen, a three dragon screen and a one dragon screen in the city. There is a pool in front of the screen and the inverted reflection of the screen in water makes it seem to come to life.

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