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Tian (天)

Chinese. ‘Heaven’, as well as ‘sky’, ‘god’, and ‘celestial’. As such, it is also to the opposite of the character Di (地), which means ‘Earth’. The word Tian appears in Tian An Men (fig.), the ‘Gate of Heavenly Peace’, i.e. the square in front of the Forbidden City (fig.) in Beijing, as this is the location where the Emperors of the past ruled with a mandate from Heaven, as the liaisons between Heaven and Earth, which is indicated in the character of their title, i.e. Wang (王). The concept of Heaven and Earth, in China represented by a circle and a square respectively, is also found in ancient Chinese coins, known as fang kong qian (fig.), and is a feature that often reoccurs in architecture (fig.) and in Chinese iconography. On the ceiling of the Chinatown Gate, i.e. the Thai-Chinese Cultural Arch on the Odeon Circle (fig.) in Bangkok's Chinatown, is a bronze plaque with the Chinese character Tian, for Heaven, whilst exactly underneath it on the floor is a similar bronze plaque with the Chinese character Di, for Earth. Visitors to Yaowaraht Road may come here to pay respect by making a wai gesture to the sky, the earth and towards the four cardinal directions, reminiscent of a northern-style kreuang thao thang sih ceremony, while standing and rotating on the bronze plaque in order to receive Qi. See also CHARACTER FORMATION & ETYMOLOGY.