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Hall of Classics (Guozijian), Peking: a triple archway of sculpted marble leading to the hall. Photograph by John Thomson, 1871.

J. Thomson

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view Hall of Classics (Guozijian), Peking: a triple archway of sculpted marble leading to the hall. Photograph by John Thomson, 1871.
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Credit: Hall of Classics (Guozijian), Peking: a triple archway of sculpted marble leading to the hall. Photograph by John Thomson, 1871. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)


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Guozijian, or the National University, was the highest national learning institution through three dynasties the Yuan, the Ming and the Qing. It was established as the Imperial Academy or Imperial College in 1306. This triple archway, or honorary portal has a roof covered entirely with yellow glazed tiles. This is the only archway in Beijing erected to honour education, declaring that, in imperial China, learning and knowledge hold a central place. There are inscriptions by the Qianlong emperor on both sides of the archway. The Guozijian was built on this site in 1783 (Pearce, op. cit.). Later, the Capital Library and subsequently part of the Capital Museum.

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Temple Yuan Ming (Yuan?), China. Bears Thomson's negative number: "490"

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