When you see this Nine Dragon Screen, you have arrived at the Antiquarian (珍寶館) in the Forbidden City. The antiques and treasures were made by the imperial craftsmen using precious material like gold, silver, jade, pearls, and some were tributes from other countries during celebrations.
I am particularly fascinated by these headdresses worn by previous empresses. The headdresses look heavy and painful to wear!
Other antiques include jewellery (the 16 carat diamond is gorgeous!),
red coral sculptures,
and jade carving – this piece here depicts Dayu,a pioneer in waterworks, in the process of flood control.
There are several halls housing the antiques which you have to come in and out from. There’s some interesting stuff outside the halls too – the Pavilion for Bestowing Wine, also known as Pavilion of Floating Cups. The winding little canal that makes up the floor of a pavilion is connected to a well at the back and as water flows through, wine glasses float along the canal as the emperor drank wine and composed poems with his buddies.
The well here is a crime scene where Emperor Guangxu’s favorite concubine, Consort Zhen was drowned. Consort Zhen was initially in Empress Dowager Cixi’s good books. Consort Zhen later meddled with official affairs and tried to influence Emperor Guangxu, asking him to oppose the Empress’ opinions and she was eventually ordered a house-arrest. When the eight allied forces invaded Beijing in 1900, the Empress did not want to take Consort Zhen along as they fled the palace. The Empress did not want to leave Consort Zhen behind either as she was afraid Consort Zhen may be raped by the invaders and hence losing the royal family’s name. Some believe Consrt Zhen was pushed into the well by eunuchs at the Empress’ order though others believe Consrt Zhen might have ended her life herself.
Here’s a few more displayed items below 🙂 If you are really interested in Chinese antiques, the National Palace Museum in Taiwan houses antiques and artifacts that’s originally from the collection in the Palace Museum in China. The collection in Taiwan although only a mere 22% , but the collection is carefully selected, and represents the best of the best, including the famed jadeite cabbage.
The Palace Museum Official Website