Four of the most famous Huabiaos in China are to be found at Tian’anmen or the Gate of Heavenly Peace at the entrance to the Forbidden City in Beijing. But do you know which kind of beast is sitting on the Top of Huabiao.
These Huabiao were constructed during the Qing Dynasty. Each has a stone Hou sitting regally on top of the column. Like the dragon, the Hou is also a mythical animal that represents power and good fortune. The heads of the Hou on the two columns behind the gate are turned inward, looking toward the palace, while those on the columns in front of the gate have their heads turned outward. The positioning of the heads symbolized the hopes of the people. With the animals’ heads turning inward, emperors were expected not to allow in sensual pleasures in the palace, but to leave the palace and get a better understanding of the common people and their needs. For this reason, the columns behind the gate are named “Wangjunchu”, which means “expecting His Majesty to go on an inspection”.
The Hou looking away from the palace shows people’s longing for the emperor’s return. This reminded rulers not to become infatuated with the beautiful landscapes of their domain but to return in good time to run state affairs. Accordingly, the two Huabiaos in front of the gate are named ”Wangjungui”, meaning “looking forward to the emperors’ return”.