THE FORBIDDEN CITY, Buildings West Side Ii

Audio File length: 2.37
English / USA Language: English / USA

The Palace of the Queen Consort was the areas reserved for the emperors’ favorite concubines. If you look carefully, you can see two pairs of rusted iron rings hanging from the beam on the outside. If you’re wondering what they were for, the empress Wanrong, the companion of the last emperor of China, Puyi, loved swings, so the emperor had these rings built so a rocker could be hung on them.

Beside this palace is the Palace of Eternal Spring. If you look closely at the walls of the corridors, you’ll see they are decorated with scenes from “A Dream of Red Mansions”, one of the best-known Chinese novels. Because it tells of the corrupt aristocracy, the book was banned by the Qing government, but the Empress Dowager Cixi loved the work so much she ordered the mural to be painted.

The last proprietor of this palace was Wenxiu, one of the wives of Emperor Puyi, who remained here from the age of 13 to the age of 16. Wenxiu was the first and only woman to divorce an emperor, in 1931.

 

Now press pause, visit the palace, and press play again when you reach the Hall of Supreme Pole.

 

The Hall of Supreme Pole is worth a visit because it is exceptionally well preserved, with painted, carved beams. The last Empress Dowager of the Qing dynasty, Longyu, lived here for three years. Incompetent and indecisive, in 1912, she signed a treaty in the name of her son, Emperor Puyi, with a warlord, to whom – perhaps without realizing it – she handed over political power. From that moment on, her physical and mental health declined, and she died of an illness just a year later.

The last of the six Western Palaces is the Palace of Eternal Longevity, not far from the Hall of Supreme Pole. This was the dwelling place of several concubines during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Inside, there is an impressive exhibition on the life of the concubines during the Qing dynasty.

 

An interesting fact: the system of the imperial concubines lasted more than 3000 years. The empress, the official wife of the emperor, had the highest rank. In addition to his consort, the emperor usually had other wives with different titles, as well as up to about 70 concubines, without counting the women who had no such recognized role but were nonetheless at his disposal!

 

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