It is inevitable over the next several weeks that you will see countless buildings of cultural significance during the television broadcasts of the Beijing Olympics. Some of those buildings will be significant, some less so. How can you tell? Count the animals.
On the corners of the roofs, there are often some number of lions, dragons, or some other significant animal. The more there are, the more significant the building. I took this picture 3 years ago (almost to the day!) in the Forbidden City. There are 9 animals, making this a very significant building – it may be the throne room or something, I don’t recall exactly.
The fact that there are 9 is also very significant. Odd numbers are considered masculine and even numbers feminine. Since 9 is the largest single digit odd number, it is considered the most masculine, and is often associated with the emperor (that’s why I was thinking this might be the throne room).
So while you are waiting for gymnastics to give way to track & field, cycling, swimming (or any other sport that is far superior to gymnastics), keep your eyes on the broadcasted images. You can now unlock significance in ancient Chinese architecture.