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In traditional Chinese culture a group of eight symbols — known as bagua or trigrams — are seen as representing fundamental elements of everything in the universe. Often this takes the form of an octagon divided into eight segments, each containing one trigram symbol, representing concepts such as fate.
The trigrams are related to tai chi philosophy, used in Taoist cosmology to represent the fundamental principles of reality. These have applications in areas including astronomy, astrology, geography, geomancy, anatomy and the family.
The octagonal field containing eight trigrams at Fenghuangshan Road, planted with vivid, different-colored crops and surrounded by a moat, was created in a bid to establish harmony in society.
In the early 12th century, when China's royal court retreated to south China following to Jurchen conquest of northern China, the emperor and his followers built a new dynasty, the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) with the capital as Lin'an - present-day Hangzhou.
The emperor and his army settled down, enjoying a lavish lifestyle and showing little inclination to get their northern lands back. This led to tensions with local people who were enduring hardship, so the court came up with the idea of having the emperor farm land, showing that he was sharing ordinary people's toil and hardships.
So the Eight Trigram Field was laid out at the foot of Fenghung Mountain, with a shape exactly according to eight trigrams, and in each trigram one kind of crops was cultivated. When the emperor worked on his land, drapes were hung around perimeter and soldiers dispatched to protect him.
However, locals learned that the emperor was merely showing up at the field and that it was his servants doing all the hard work. On discovering this, locals stopped trusting the emperor, and his farming performances ended.
But the field was retained, even after nearly 1,000 of years, and used by local farmers. Also it's a scenic site that was lately renovated, featuring sculptures and greenery.
For a good view, go to Zilai Cave at nearby Yuhuang Mountain nearby.