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"Secret World of the Forbidden City: Splendors from China's Imperial Palace"
2001-07-01 until 2001-09-23
Peabody Essex Museum
Salem, MA, USA United States of America

Imperial Palace was the heart of an empire that, to the Chinese, was the center of the world. During each dynasty exceptional art was created to surround and celebrate the emperor and his imperial family, whose members lived within the protected walls of the Forbidden City.

One of the emperors principal roles was that of arbiter of taste for the empire as a whole. Under the auspices of the Qing dynasty, the imperial collections and studios swelled to unprecedented proportions. Thousands of artists, the finest of their day, toiled in the studios creating magnificent works of art - portraits and paintings, porcelain, formal robes, armor, scepters, seals, and jewelry - to affirm the power and glory of the state and thus the legitimacy of the emperor, the Son of Heaven. Today, the collection of the Qing emperors forms a substantial portion of the works in the Palace Museum in Beijing. A spectacular ensemble of more than 300 of these historic treasures, Secret World of the Forbidden City: Splendors from China’s Imperial Palace invites visitors to experience the imperial world of dynastic China.

The Forbidden City

Chinas Imperial Palace - known as the Forbidden City - was erected during the Ming dynasty. It took 100,000 artisans and one million workmen fourteen years to complete (1406–1420). This 2.3-million-square-foot architectural marvel was designed according to a Chinese cosmic diagram of the universe that clearly defined the north-south and east-west axes. Ten-foot-high walls, crowned by four observation towers and flanked by a deep moat, surround the palace. In auspicious reference to the emperor’s long life and rule, the palace contains 999 buildings and 9,999 rooms. (The word for nine in Chinese, jiu, is a homonym for long, lengthy.) Today the Forbidden City is one of the worlds foremost museums of Chinese art and culture, with collections including gifts of state, military campaign treasures, and furnishings and possessions of members of the imperial household.


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