The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has inscribed China’s “24 Solar Terms” on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on November 30, 2016.
The 24 Solar Terms is a knowledge system and social practice formed through observation of the sun’s annual motion, and cognition of the whole year’s changes of season, climate and phenology. To date, it has functioned as an indispensable tool to guide the agricultural production and daily life in China.
An introduction to the 24 Solar Terms is seen at 24 Solar Terms Park, Beijing, Dec. 1, 2016. [Photo/Qianlong]
In Beijing, there is a good place for people to visually learn the knowledge of the 24 solar terms — 24 Solar Terms Park. Located to the south of Temple of Heaven in Dongcheng district, it is an open park on the theme of China’s 24 solar terms. It was built in 2009 and officially opened to the public on November 7, the day of Beginning of Winter in 2009.
The total area of the park is 20,000 square meters, and the main building comprises 24 white marble solar term columns and 24 white marble flower balls, as well as stone tablets, corridors and squares.
White marble solar term columns stand at 24 Solar Terms Park, Beijing, Dec. 1, 2016. [Photo/Qianlong]
The 24 7-meter-high columns are divided into four groups based on four seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter, and the four groups are about 150 meters apart from each other to form four squares themed “sowing in spring”, “growing in summer”, “harvesting in autumn” and “sleeping in winter”.
Each column represents a solar term, and it is engraved with an introduction to the solar term, Chinese poems about the solar term, the corresponding astrological chart and flower. The design of the 24 solar term columns is inspired by the 24 pillars of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests of Temple of Heaven.
An introduction to Beginning of Winter is shown on a column at 24 Solar Terms Park, Beijing, Dec. 1, 2016. [Photo/Qianlong]
The “sleeping in winter” square is seen at 24 Solar Terms Park, Beijing, Dec. 1, 2016. [Photo/Qianlong]
A solar term is any of 24 points in sun’s annual motion that matches a particular astronomical event or signifies some natural phenomenon. The points are spaced 15° apart along the ecliptic and are used by lunisolar calendars to stay synchronized with the seasons.
The 24 terms include Beginning of Spring, Rain Water, Waking of Insects, Spring Equinox, Pure Brightness, Grain Rain, Beginning of Summer, Grain Full, Grain in Ear, Summer Solstice, Slight Heat, Great Heat, Beginning of Autumn, Limit of Heat, White Dew, Autumn Equinox, Cold Dew, Frost’s Descent, Beginning of Winter, Slight Snow, Great Snow, Winter Solstice, Slight Cold, and Great Cold.
The 24 solar terms are shown on a column at 24 Solar Terms Park, Beijing, Dec. 1, 2016. [Photo/Qianlong]
Around each group of the solar term columns, there are some flower balls. The term “24 florescence wind” indicates climate changes during the 120 days from Slight Cold to Grain Rain in a year.
Several flower balls scatter at 24 Solar Terms Park, Beijing, Dec. 1, 2016. [Photo/Qianlong]
Three stone tablets are set up in the park, engraved with the knowledge of 24 solar terms, 24 florescence winds and a solar term ballad. All those together with the columns make tourists feel like reading an illustrated book of 24 solar terms when they tour around in the park.
A stone tablet is seen at 24 Solar Terms Park, Beijing, Dec. 1, 2016. [Photo/Qianlong]
In addition, the park has a large green area with lots of plants surrounding the four themed squares. There are also facilities like stone tables and stone benches for rest and entertainment.
A corridor with stone benches is seen at 24 Solar Terms Park, Beijing, Dec. 1, 2016. [Photo/Qianlong]
A footpath with flower patterns is seen at 24 Solar Terms Park, Beijing, Dec. 1, 2016. [Photo/Qianlong]
If you go
Admission: Free and open all day
Transportation: Take bus and get off at the station of Tiantannanmen or Yongdingmendong