I’m writing a fantasy fic set in a fictitious empire, based on ancient China. Even though it’s fantasy, I hope that the empire mirrors ancient China as closely as possible. I prefer to borrow details from the Tang, Song or Ming Dynasty, and I’m worried that I might include any detail that is exclusive to pre-Tang Dynasty China by mistake.
I googled “宫廷宴会”, “imperial banquet”, “Forbidden City”, “Forbidden City AND banquet”, “Hall of Preserving Harmony” and “Versailles”. I downloaded the Virtual Forbidden City, but I thought that it wasn’t very helpful.
1) The Empress will be hosting a banquet for her officials and their families, so what is the ideal number of guests? I suppose that there should be enough guests to fill the entire hall up. However, if there are too many guests, say, 1000, then the Empress’s reputation for thrift might be ruined. According to a website, an emperor once had 200 tables for a banquet, but many guests had to sit outside the hall. I don’t want any guest to end up outside.
2) I’ve based the hall on the Hall of Preserving Harmony in the Forbidden City. Is it okay if I write that the entire hall is painted in red, inside and out? According to some websites, within the Forbidden City, some halls’ ceilings are painted with dragons. Is the Hall of Preserving Harmony one of them?
3) My sister, who had visited the Forbidden City years ago, told me that most of the halls didn’t have windows. If she’s telling the truth, won’t the halls be really dim? The banquet will begin at noon (in summer), and I wonder how dim the hall will be. If halls don’t have windows, then how does light enter? I think that the hall will be locked throughout the banquet.
4) I’m puzzled. Some sources say that you’ll have to enter the Forbidden City through the Meridian Gates; other sources say that you’ll have to enter through Tiananmen. Isn’t there a contradiction? Most sources state that you’ll have to cross many bridges. However, they don’t specify the number and location of bridges in the Forbidden City. Is it true that all the bridges and steps are made of marble? A source says that they’re made of ordinary stone, not marble.
5) If you’ve visited the Versailles and the Forbidden City, in your opinion, what is the greatest difference between these two palaces? I’ve only seen online photos, and I think that the Versailles seems more welcoming because of cushions and so on, but I might be wrong.