After gadding about the first set of buildings and bimbling along the Long Corridor, we watched one of the dragon boats and went in search of the Marble Boat.
The Marble Boat, also known as the Boat of Purity and Ease, was first ‘built’ in 1755 during the reign of the Qialong Emperor. The original pavilion was made from a base of large stone blocks which supported a wooden superstructure done in a traditional Chinese design.
In 1860, during the Second Opium War, the pavilion was destroyed by Anglo-French forces. It was restored in 1893 on order of Empress Dowager Cixi. In this restoration, a new two-storey superstructure was designed which incorporated elements of European architecture. Like its predecessor, the new superstructure is made out of wood but it was painted to imitate marble. On each "deck", there is a large mirror to reflect the waters of the lake and give an impression of total immersion in the aquatic environment. Imitation paddlewheels on each side of the pavilion makes it look like a paddle steamer. The pavilion has a sophisticated drainage system which channels rain water through four hollow pillars. The water is finally released into the lake through the mouths of four dragonheads.
The boat design of the pavilion may relate to a quote attributed to Wei Zheng, a Tang Dynasty chancellor renowned for his honest advice. He is said to have told Emperor Taizong that "the waters that float the boat can also swallow it", implying that the people can support the emperor but can also topple him. With this in mind, the Qianlong Emperor might have chosen to construct the Marble Boat on a solid stone base to indicate that the Qing Dynasty was not to be overthrown.
The Marble Boat is often seen as the symbol for the the fact that the money used to restore the Summer Palace largely came from funds originally earmarked for building up a new imperial navy. The controller of the Admiralty, Prince Chun, owed much of his social standing as well as his appointment to Empress Dowager Cixi, who had adopted his eldest son, Zaitian, who was enthroned as the Guangxu Emperor. Because of this, he probably saw no other choice than to condone the embezzlement. The pavilion is 36 metres long. It stands on the north western shore of Kunming Lake, near the western end of the Long Corridor.
The Marble Boat became the backdrop for our new FB picture.
We then queued for a dragon boat to get back to the exit, Bear posed......
.............and then, of course, the trigger finger lifted.
The long boat was lavishly painted.
Although the lake looked hazy, we could really see the size of it. The river waterway did and still does link this large man-made lake to the Forbidden City which allowed the Emperors a smooth ride to the Summer Palace.
Looking across the route we had walked.
South Lake Island..................
.........accessed via the Seventeen-arch Bridge.
The Taurean posed with the Bull who protects the lake and yes, the trigger finger proved too much to control.
Kuoru Ting (or Spacious Pavilion), with an area of 130 square metres, this is the most spacious pavilion of its type. When the Summer Palace was named the Garden of Clear Ripples, there was no wall on the east bank, so one could see afar from all four sides of the pavilion; thus, it was named “Spacious Pavilion.” Octagonal with double eaves, it was also called the “Pavilion od Eight Dimensions.” Emperor Qialong’s poems and classical writings were inscribed on a board hanging in the pavilion. By now our feet were aching, so we only stood at the beginning of the bridge and forewent the need to bimble over to the island. Time to head to the airport for our next leg of our tour.
ALL IN ALL LOVELY TO BE BESIDE AND ON WATER AGAIN
NICE TO HAVE A BRIEF JAUNT ON WATER