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Summer Palace - Marble Boat

The Marble Boat, also known as the "Boat of Purity and Ease" is a lakeside pavilion on the grounds of the Summer Palace in Beijing, China.

It was first erected in 1755 during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. The original pavilion was made from a base of large stone blocks which supported a wooden superstructure done in a traditional Chinese design.

In 1860, during the Second Opium War, the pavilion was destroyed by Anglo-French forces. It was restored in 1893 on order of the Empress Dowager Cixi. In this restoration, a new two-story superstructure was designed which incorporated elements of European architecture. Like its predecessor, the new superstructure is made out of wood but it was painted to imitate marble. On each "deck", there is a large mirror to reflect the waters of the lake and give an impression of total immersion in the aquatic environment.

Marble BoatImitation paddlewheels on each side of the pavilion makes it look like a paddle steamer. The pavilion has a sophisticated drainage system which channels rain water through four hollow pillars. The water is finally released into the lake through the mouths of 4 dragonheads.

The Marble Boat is often seen as an ironic commentary on the fact that the money used to restore the Summer Palace largely came from funds originally earmarked for building up a new imperial navy. The controller of the Admiralty, the 1st Prince Chun, owed much of his social standing as well as his appointment to the Empress Dowager, who had adopted his oldest son to become the Guangxu Emperor. Because of this, he probably saw no other choice than to condone the embezzlement.

The pavilion is 36 meter long. It stands on the northwestern shore of Kunming Lake, near the western end of the Long Corridor.