In 1345 the Mongol ruling house of the Yuan (1271–1368) built Juyong Gate along China's Great Wall. The gate stood on a road connecting the empire's twin capitals, Dadu and Shangdu. Those two cities possessed vastly different built environments. Dadu, the emperor's winter residence, evoked the tradition of Chinese imperial-city building. It provided the ruler with wooden and stone buildings laid out on an orthogonal grid. Shangdu, the emperor's summer residence, delivered a space for grassland containing pastures, where the ruler could set up collapsible tents filled with wall hangings. In other words, the seasonal movement between the two capitals entailed a shift in the habit of seeing and visual representation. To reflect that shift, Juyong Gate's passageway was carved with imagery that could simultaneously belong to the two visual worlds: planar reliefs that could be perceived as both stone carvings and wall hangings. Juyong Gate thus became a site where two major visual systems in constant negotiation in the Mongols' China could come together and coexist as one.

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