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Palace of Heavenly Purity(Qianqinggong)


Qianqinggong(Palace of Heavenly Purity) is the main palace of the living zone of Forbidden City, and one of three palaces in living zone. The roof is double-eave Wudianding with 20 meters. In the mid palace, there is a throne and warmth rooms on both sides. Initially established in 1420, Qianqinggong(Palace of Heavenly Purity) was rebuilt for several times due to fire disasters both in Ming and Qing Dynasties. Currently it was reestablished in 1798. The total area of Qianqinggong(Palace of Heavenly Purity) is 1400 square meters. On the platform in front of the palace, on both sides, there are copper tortoise, copper crane, sundial and jialiang and so on.

The scale of Qianqinggong(Palace of Heavenly Purity) is the largest in the living zone of Forbidden City. 14 emperors of Ming dynasty and two emperors of Qing dynasty were all took Qianqinggong(Palace of Heavenly Purity) as their living residence, also here emperors used to deal with the daily national affairs. According to the record, more than 10 ladies in waiting attempted to strangle Emperor Jiajing when he was sleeping, but failed. Since then Emperor Shizong moved out Qianqinggong(Palace of Heavenly Purity) and never came back for living.

Before reign of Emperor Kangxi, Qianqinggong(Palace of Heavenly Purity) had a close touch with governmental affairs. Emperors used to study, read books, read over the official reports, meet the official, meet foreign diplomats, hold the royal ceremony and family banquet. The upper side of the main hall of Qianqinggong(Palace of Heavenly Purity) hangs a plaque board in four Chinese characters” 正大光明(literally means fair and square)” created by Emperor Shunzhi of Qing dynasty. Besides, there used to be a secret box holding the selected candidate’s name of the next emperor. At the time, the competition for throne succession was very severe among emperor’s sons. For relieving the conflict, since Emperor Yongzheng, Emperors adopted the measures of holding the secret name of the nominated as next Emperor, that was, when the emperor was alive, he did not announce the name of the successor but wrote the name of the nominated on the paper and kept the paper in this small box. Generally there are two pieces of document, one was put beside Emperor and the other one was put in the box and then the box would be kept behind the plaque. After Emperor died, the appointed official would open the box and checked it with the other document beside Emperor. If both were right, he would announce the successor’s name. Emperor Qianlong, Emperor Jiaqing and Emperor Daoguang and Emperor Xianfeng were all enthroned in this way.

The Banquet of Thousands of the Senior

There are two grand banquets held for the seniors in Qianqinggong(Palace of Heavenly Purity). One was in 1722 and the other was in 1785. The second one was grander than the first. At the time, the officials, officers, commoners and handcrafters at the age above 65 were invited. In total, more than three thousand participated into the banquet, and all of them were presented the royal wine and crutches. On the banquet, participators created thousands of poems and couplets.

The Place to Keep Coffin

In Qing Dynasty, Qianqinggong(Palace of Heavenly Purity) was also the place to keep the coffin of the emperor. Even if the emperor died at the other place, firstly his body should be moved here, and kept for several days, and then moved to Guandedian(Hall of Observing Moral) in Jianshan Hill. Emperor Shunzhi died in Yangxindian (Hall of Mental Cultivation), Emperor Kangxi died in Changchun Garden, Emperor Yongzheng died in Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan garden) and Emperor Xianfeng died at Summer Resort in Chengde. All of their bodies were all firstly moved to Qianqinggong(Palace of Heavenly Purity).


Writer: David from Seeraa International
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