Notes on the Geography of China: Beijing: Ming Tombs: Photo 5
Four dragon-wrapped, cloud-piercing columns frame the pavilion. Identical ones at Tiananmen are called huabiao, or "monumental columns." These are called hingtienchu, "columns supporting the sky." Whatever the name, they were originally intended as places where the emperor could be petitioned or memorialized, and they represent the emperor by symbolizing the imperial link to the heavens. The octagonal base is emblematic of Mt. Meru, center of the Buddhist universe.
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