of the God of Heaven followed a fixed pattern. First, the officials responsible for the
ceremony had to write a program, which was presented to the Emperor in the Hall of Supreme Harmony in
the Forbidden City for approval. After the program was approved, the emperor rehearsed it
in the Hall of Complete Harmony.
The day before the
ceremony, the emperor presented incense in the Imperial Vault of Heaven. Then, he went to the Circular Mound Altar to inspect the tablets.
Also, the emperor inspected sacrificial articles in the storehouse of the gods.
On the day of the
ceremony, the emperor left the Hall of
Abstinence two hours before sunrise to the chiming of the bell. Music and drums
replaced the Altar. This is how the ceremony began. The entire ritual consisted of nine
- Wellcoming the deities where something special was burnt
to usher in the God of Heaven.
- Offering jade and silk items in boxes.
- Presenting sacrificial animals.
- First presenting of offerings.
- Second presenting of offerings.
- Final presenting offerings.
- Removal of sacrificial offerings.
- Seeing the deities off: stuff of each kind of offering was
- The emperor views burning of all offerings.
accompanied each procedure, which was followed by the kowtow of the emperor and his
ministers. When the smell of the burnt offerings filled the air of the Circular Mound Altar, the ceremony was over.
Click here to see the map of the Temple of Heaven