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The Forbidden City:
Inside the Court of China’s Emperors

Vancouver Art Gallery
Vancouver BC – Oct 18, 2014-Jan 11, 2015

Portrait of Emperor Qianlong in ceremonial robe

Portrait of Emperor Qianlong in ceremonial robe, ink and colour on silk, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period [Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver BC, Oct 18-Jan 11] © The Palace Museum

Emperor's ceremonial armour
Emperor's ceremonial armour, cotton padding, woven silk, gilt copper studs and metal plate, Qing dynasty, Yongzheng period [Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver BC, Oct 18-Jan 11] © The Palace Museum

Between 1416 and 1911, China was ruled by the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The seat of imperial power was Beijing’s Forbidden City, a remarkable complex that includes 980 buildings, inside which are almost 10,000 rooms. These rooms contain over a million ceremonial, diplomatic and domestic artifacts.

Renamed Beijing’s Palace Museum in 1925, the Forbidden City is a UNESCO World Heritage site and remains one of China’s leading cultural institutions. For this show of many of the Forbidden City’s intriguing treasures, the VAG pulled out all the stops, with its exhibition space transformed into “the Court of China’s Emperors.”

Among the artefacts on display: the Emperor’s ceremonial armour, a free-standing outfit from the Yongzheng period constructed of padded cotton, woven silk, copper studs and metal plate; a selection of informal outerwear, such as a golden gown decorated with embroidered purple grapes and worn by the Empress Dowager Cixi; and ink-on-silk portraits, like that of Emperor Qianlong.

Michael Turner

 Sun, Sep 7, 2014