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Re-enacting royal residences

September 10, 2017

Imperial office

Imperial office:  The Heritage Museum has recreated the Hall of Mental Cultivation's Central Hall where Qing emperors met their mandarins and held official meetings.

Simplistic style

Simplistic style:  The hall's West Warmth Chamber was the workplace of Emperor Yongzheng and has modest furnishings.

Treasure trove

Treasure trove:   Emperor Qianlong built the Room of Three Rarities to store his antiques and calligraphic collections.

Pulling the strings

Pulling the strings:   In the East Warmth Chamber empress dowagers Cixi and Cian ruled the country from behind a curtain behind the throne during the reigns of emperors Tongzhi and Guangxu.

Glittering goblet

Glittering goblet:  The Gold Chalice of Eternal Stability is inlaid with gemstones.

Dynastic display

Dynastic display:   Museum of Art Assistant Curator Sunny Tang says the furnishings of the Hall of Mental Cultivation reflect the different tastes and personalities of the Qing emperors.

Located next to the Palace of Heavenly Purity in the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Hall of Mental Cultivation was the political power base of the Qing dynasty.

 

From emperors Yongzheng to Xuantong, eight Qing dynasty rulers used the hall as their office and residence.

 

To allow visitors to travel back in time see how Qing rulers lived and worked, the Leisure & Cultural Services Department and the Palace Museum are holding the "Hall of Mental Cultivation of The Palace Museum - Imperial Residence of Eight Emperors" exhibition at the Heritage Museum.

 

The show recreates important structures in the hall, with their furnishings reflecting the different tastes and personalities of the emperors.

 

Located in the centre of the building, the Central Hall was where the emperors met their mandarins and held official meetings.

 

A plaque on the wall had the calligraphic inscription Zhong Zheng Ren He, meaning "justice and benevolence".

 

Museum of Art Assistant Curator Sunny Tang said Emperor Yongzheng wrote the inscription himself.

 

"This means the emperor aspired to rule with impartiality, generosity and harmony."

 

Modest monarch

In the West Warmth Chamber where Emperor Yongzheng also worked, there was another plaque with the calligraphic inscription Qin Zheng Qin Xian which means "diligent in affairs and keeping the worthy close".

 

Mr Tang said the plaque shows Emperor Yongzheng's good work ethic.

 

"He had high demands on himself, striving to be a pragmatic emperor with his people's interests at heart.

 

"A disciplined ruler, he worked late into the night nearly every day during his 13 years on the throne."

 

After Emperor Yongzheng died, his successor Qianlong built the Room of Three Rarities to serve as his private office and study room.

 

Mr Tang said Emperor Qianlong loved arts and culture.

 

"Among his collections are three precious calligraphic works by Eastern Jin writer Wang Xizhi and his relatives. He stored the treasures in the room and called it the Room of Three Rarities.

 

"The room has elegant furnishings. Visitors can see the many antiques, plaques, couplets and wall vases he used to decorate the room."

 

Located to the east of the Hall of Mental Cultivation, the East Warmth Chamber witnessed the reign of Empress Dowager Cixi, the extravagant tyrant who was blamed by historians for causing the Qing dynasty's decline and eventual demise.

 

Curtain call

As regents to young emperors Tongzhi and Guangxu, empress dowagers Cixi and Cian ruled the country from behind a curtain behind the throne. Visitors can see this unique arrangement at the exhibition.

 

Besides re-enacting the original setting of the hall, the show features more than 200 precious artefacts from the building, many of which are being exhibited outside the Palace Museum for the first time.

 

There is the Gold Chalice of Eternal Stability, which is inlaid with gemstones.

 

Emperors drank from the cup during a ceremony on the first day of the Lunar New Year for good fortune.

 

There are only four of these goblets existing in the world.

 

Mr Tang said from the reign of Emperor Yongzheng, the Qing court conducted the ceremony to ring in the new year at midnight on the first day of the Lunar New Year.

 

"The emperors first filled the Gold Chalice of Eternal Stability with wine and drank from the golden cup which symbolised the political stability and permanence of the Qing dynasty."

 

Running until October 15, the exhibition is one of the events to celebrate the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's 20th anniversary.



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Hong Kong Public Museums