The architecture of Epcot’s China Pavilion strikingly identifies which nation it represents. Taking inspiration from ancient Chinese structures and focusing on the Imperial Palace—or Forbidden City—and the Temple of Heaven park, this Pavilion really captures the essence of the Far East.
Guests enter through the Zhao Yang Men, or Gate of the Golden Sun, which is modeled after the one at the emperor’s summer palace near Beijing. Progressing in and through the Pavilion, we see the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, representing the place the emperor would go to pray for plentiful harvests or to give thanks for one already passed. Four columns in the Hall’s interior represent the seasons of the year, and the twelve exterior columns the twelve months and the twelve-year cycle the Chinese live by. The stacked, circular levels of the building coincide with Chinese symbolism, in which circles define the heavens and squares the earth. When the two are used together, they form the universe.
Signs of royalty and power are also plentiful in the China Pavilion. Red and yellow, representing happiness and the emperor, respectively, appear throughout, as do the dragon, indicating power, and the phoenix, symbolizing peace and prosperity. If you note a dragon with five claws, it specifically signifies the power of the emperor.
As mentioned, in Chinese culture (and throughout the Pavilion), the dragon is a recurring symbol of power, especially in relation to the emperor. Dragon kites are often flow in celebration of Chinese New Year. Today, follow the below tutorial from Activity TV to make a dragon kite and test its power against the wind at a nearby park.
You will need:
- rip-stop nylon
- bamboo dowels
- cloth tape
- gold tinsel
SCHOOL SUBJECT: Art, Recess, Social Science
SKILL LEVEL: Elementary, Middle Grades
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