Along the eaves of the numerous palaces within the forbidden city, we see animal figures. Their numbers reveals the building's function and importance. A roofline displaying five animals signified use by civil or military officials, who regularly petitioned the emperor.
Below we see other examples of symbolism. The lion on the left is an expression of the ancient Chinese idea of yin and yang, which combine in a balanced harmony. Representing yin, a sleeping cub rests beneath the paw of the female lion. On the other side of the doorway, a male lion (yang) rests his paw upon a sphere. The high threshold that must be crossed to enter the palace is a symbolic (and practical) reminder to bow the head humbly before going in.