World of deserted women in the Forbidden City

2016-11-25 16:09 千龙网

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Palace of Kindness & Tranquility serves as the sculpture hall where representative sculpture works from different times of China are displayed. [Photo by Wang Shuang/Qianlong]

Palace of Kindness & Tranquility [Photo by Wang Shuang/Qianlong]

The newly brushed red walls of “widows’ palaces”. [Photo by Wang Shuang/Qianlong]

North of the Inner Court Entrance Square in the Forbidden City was where the emperor and his family lived. On the two sides of the square lie two gates: Gate of Great Ancestors in the west, and Gate of Prospect & Good Fortune in the east. The former separated the central axis from Outer West Road where the “widows’ palaces”, a world of deserted women, were located.


The bronze qilin (a legendary animal in Chinese mythology) is seen in front of the Palace of Kindness and Tranquility. The qilins in the Old Summer Palace were made after its shape. [Photo by Wang Shuang/Qianlong]

The bronze crane placed in front of the Palace of Kindness & Tranquility symbolizes longevity, riches and honor. [Photo by Wang Shuang/Qianlong]

After an emperor died, his wife and concubines had to move to the palaces in the west of the Forbidden City like Palace of Tranquil Old Age, Palace of Longevity and Old Age, and Palace of Kindness & Tranquility, and live in seclusion until their death, even if they were still in their twenties or thirties. 

At the center of the exquisite ceiling of the Palace of Kindness & Tranquility is a caisson, which was believed to help prevent fire. [Photo by Wang Shuang/Qianlong]

The elaborately made handicrafts in the Palace of Kindness & Tranquility. [Photo by Wang Shuang/Qianlong]

The bed in the west room of the Palace of Longevity and Old Age is the place where the empress dowager chatted with the emperor’s concubines. [Photo by Wang Shuang/Qianlong]

The east room of the Palace of Longevity and Old Age is the place where the emperor paid respect to the empress dowager. [Photo by Wang Shuang/Qianlong]

An iron urn inside the Gate of Great Ancestors is said to be made during Ming Emperor Hongzhi’s reign (1488-1505). [Photo by Wang Shuang/Qianlong]

责任编辑:Lu Qing(QN0045)