Forbidden City

-- Yangxindian (Hall of Mental Cultivation) --

The gate before the Hall of Mental Cultivation Yangxindian, the Hall of Mental Cultivation, is particularly significant in history of the Forbidden City. Built originally in the Ming dynasty and rebuilt during the Qing dynasty, it was here that from the time of Emperor Yongzheng the Qing Emperors lived and ruled the Empire. Also, three emperors died here. The building has a front and a rear hall, which served as the emperor's bedroom.

The emperor would summon his ministers to consult with him on state affairs in the central part of the front hall. Books containing instructions for a new emperor on how to rule over his empire would be placed in a bookcase behind the throne.

In the East Warmth Chamber, the notorious Empress Dowager Cixi, attended to state affairs sitting behind a curtain. The chamber is displayed as it was in her time. From behind this yellow curtain she corruptly ruled China for forty-eight years. Firstly as regent and domineering mother of her son and subsequently as regent to her adoptive nephew. In the West Warmth Chamber, emperors from Yongzheng to Xianfeng held private audiences with their ministers either for consultation or the issue of secret orders. The small house in the west end is named Sanxitang (Hall of Three Rare Treasures), so called because Emperor Qianlong collected and held three outstanding calligraphy masterpieces by Wang Xizhi, Wang Xianzhi, and Wang Xun, three masters in Chinese calligraphy. Plaques written by Emperor Qianlong are still displayed here.

Several emperors ever ruled behind the table over there. There is a central connecting lobby between the front and rear halls. There are five imperial bedrooms, one in the center and the other four flanking it. Off the courtyards to the east and west of the rear hall, are temporary lodgings which were provided for empresses and concubines respectively when they were summoned to attend the Emperor. They were expressly forbidden to come here except upon invitation by the emperor.

On February 12th, 1912, following the final coup of the Revolution of 1911 led by Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, Emperor Dowager Longyu presided over the last cabinet meeting of the Qing dynasty. Forced to abdicate, she signed the formal Declaration of Abdication here. However, the imperial family was permitted to continue to live in the Inner Court until 1924 when they were driven out by General Feng Yuxiang.

Go north to visit Xiliugong (Six Western Palaces).

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