Huabiao is an ornamental pillar of China made from marble with engraving of twisted dragons and clouds. This pillar was used as a decoration in important building in ancient China. In fact, one can see a Huabiao right in front of Tiananmen in Beijing.
The origin of Huabiao dates back to 4,000 years when Yao and Shun were the kings. They got wooden columns placed along roads to serve as landmarks and road signs for travelers. In addition, these columns could be used by people to write their comments or criticism so that the government could improve its governance still further.
However, there is another story floating around about the origin of Huabiao. It is believed that during 770 BC and 476 BC, a pole-like instrument known as Biao was used to determine the direction and position of a construction. As the constructions became larger and more complex, stone Biaos were used. This ultimately led to the Biao being part of the building structure itself. Today, the role of the Biao or Huabiao is just ornamental.
If you go to Tiananmen, you will find two Huabiaos in front of the gate and two behind the gate. Right on top of the Huabiao is a mythical animal called Hou. It is believed that the positioning of heads of the animals serve to remind the emperor of the hopes and wishes of the people of his kingdom. The two Huabiaos in the front are facing south, away from the palace. They are suppose to be awaiting the emperor’s return and are named Wangjungui. They were meant to recall the emperor when he has been away from his palace for too long. The two Huabiaos behind the gate face the palace and are called Wangjunchu. These remind the emperor to go out of his palace and mix with the ordinary people so that he could understand their lives better.
The Huabiao — the ornamental pillar of China — truly is an architectural marvel. It is evidence of China’s rich and long history.