china edition
 

 

Forbidden City - Palace of Heavenly Purity

Inside the Gate of Celestial Purity, the first building you will see is the Palace of Celestial Purity or Palace of Heavenly Purity (QianQingGong). It is the smaller twin of the Hall of Supreme Harmony. Hence there is a smaller sun-dial, smaller tortoises, smaller grain measure, smaller storks and other smaller scale items. However, it is the largest structure in the Inner Court. It was built in 1420 and rebuilt in 1798.

Sometimes this palace was used as the emperors' bedroom palace - the Ming emperors and the first 2 Qing emperors lived inside this palace and attended to daily state affairs there. Later, Emperor Yongzheng moved his living quarters to the Hall of Mental Cultivation, which is located directly to the west of this palace.

However, it still played a significant role in the imperial life. Foreign ambassadors were also received here. Banquets and rites occasionally would be held here too. For example, in 1722 and 1785, a 'Banquet for a Thousand Seniors' was held here. Old men over 60 from the nation presented the events. Emperor QianLong sent them presents afterwards.

Palace of Heavenly Purity

Moreover, during the Qing dynasty, no matter where the emperor died, his coffin would be placed in this palace for a few days to hold memorial ceremonies. Later, the coffin would be moved to GuanDeDian (Hall for Observing Military Virtue) in JingShan. Finally, the deceased emperor was buried in the imperial mausoleum on a selected day.

In the middle of the palace, the throne sits on a raised platform with stairs in front, surrounded by decorations like cloisonne incense burners, long red candles and large mirrors, which were placed beside the throne to ward off evil spirits (this belief is still deeply rooted in the minds of many Chinese).

On the 2 nearest columns, there are couplets written by Qing emperors. Over the throne hangs a plaque engraved with 4 Chinese characters, written by Emperor YongZheng, that mean 'Justice and Brightness', or 'to be fair and open'.

From the time of Emperor YongZheng, the secretly chosen crown prince's name would be written on duplicate documents and one copy would be hidden in a box behind the plaque. The other copy would be kept with the emperor. If the designated names on the 2 copies were the same, the designated prince could ascend to the throne.

The last emperor, Puyi, was married in December 1922 in this palace.