Hall of Abstinence is located near the western entrance of the Temple of Heaven. It is
encircled by two walls. The Inner wall is called Brick City, and the outer wall is called
the Purple Wall. To further ensure the safety of the emperor, a moat was built to surround
the Purple Wall.
A bell tower, two
stone pavilions and a beamless hall are the main structures here. The bell tower is in the
northeast corner of the Hall of Abstinence. Before each ceremony. bells would be struck
when the emperor left for the Circular Altar Mound and would not stop until the emperor
arrived, After the ceremony, the bells would be struck again.
Of the two stone
pavilions, the right pavilion kept time while the left one has a bronze plate with the
word "fasting" engraved on it as a constant reminder to the emperor to observe
fasting rules. The beamless hall was one of the most famous buildings in Beijing. A
blue-tiled roof atop the hall symbolized that the emperor must always acknowledge the
Supremacy of the Heavenly Emperor.
ceremony, emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties held a three-day fast during Spring,
Summer and Winter. The emperors spent two days fasting in the Forbidden City and completed
the three-day fast in the Hall of Abstinence.
During the three
days, the emperor could not drink wine. He could only eat vegetables, but not garlic or
onions. The emperor couldn't have any entertainment, nor could he handle any state
affairs. Also, he had to be away from women. Naturally, such restrictions could be
difficult for any emperor who was accustomed to all these luxuries.
Click here to see the map of the Temple of Heaven