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What is a Moon Gate?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

A moon gate is an architectural feature, often found in gardens, which originated in Chinese architecture and design. It typically serves as an entryway into a garden, though it can be used as a basic entryway into just about any type of location. This type of gate usually consists of a full circular opening built as part of a large wall, and it can be constructed from a number of different materials, including wood and stone. A moon gate can be found in a number of elaborate gardens throughout China, the US, and the UK, as well as in Bermuda.

Sometimes called a full moon gate, this gate typically consists of a round opening in a large wall that creates an entrance into a garden or other outdoor area. This type of gate is a traditional structure that has been utilized for centuries throughout China and was originally used primarily by the wealthy. As a status symbol, it spread in popularity throughout other regions as well, including the US and the UK, and continues to be used in gardens throughout many countries.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

The use of a moon gate also spread in popularity to Bermuda and has since become a major architectural feature of the country. Bermuda moon gates are slightly different from traditional gates, however, in that they are often freestanding circular entryways, or they may be built into a low fence or hedge. In this way, they do not necessarily serve the same function as they typically serve in China, where they are often part of a tall fence or wall. A moon gate can be built in a number of different ways, and it is often constructed using wood, though a stone gate can be made using a wooden frame for support.

In China, the design of a moon gate is largely ceremonial and the different pieces of the gate are said to symbolize various aspects of Chinese belief and culture. The gate can be left completely open, or a rounded fence can be placed within the gate, which can be opened and closed as desired. There is also a similar type of gate known as a half-moon gate, which usually has straight sides and a rounded arch at the top. It is customary for young people and newlyweds to pass together through a moon gate for good luck and for a happy, fortuitous life together.

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