Why was The temple of Heaven built

why was temple of heaven built

The temple of heaven was built by emperor Zhudi to hold sacrificial ceremonies to pray for favorable weather and show the legitimacy of emperors.

Ancient China was primarily an agricultural country, where the crop yield directly mattered to people’s livelihood and the stability of society. Since a bumper harvest largely depended on a good climate, i.e., timely rain, enough sunshine, and no gusts, worshipping heaven and praying for favorable weather had been of utmost importance.

Moreover, the Chinese emperors referred to themselves as the son of heaven, who was designated to reign the country. They also needed to hold sacrificial ceremonies regularly to demonstrate their legitimacy and seek affirmation.

There had been a similar building in Nanjing, the original capital of the Ming dynasty. But after emperor Zhudi relocated the capital to Beijing (1420 A.D.), he desperately needed a new altar to conduct the ceremony, especially when you consider that he usurped the throne from his nephew, which was immoral, caused many insurrections, and incurred criticism among intellectuals.

The worshipping was exceptionally complex. The emperor and his chancellors should take a bath, change their clothes, and stop drinking wine, eating meat, and listening to music three days in advance. The ceremony started at about 5 o’clock in the morning and included 11 stages, beginning with welcoming gods and sacrificing cows and culminating in sending gods off.

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