Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dwelling-place for concubines -- wow!

After the Qing emperors had moved their capital to Beijing, they still used the Shenyang palace as a summer retreat — a Qing Camp David, if you will. When the Son of Heaven travels, of course, he must bring with him a proper selection of his wives. Thus, was this small building built about fifteen feet out the back door to the Emperor's sleeping quarters.

It's perhaps a little cramped, suggesting that the Emperor traveled with a greatly reduced retinue of concubines, relative to the hundred or so who might be available to him in Beijing. Such a pity! 

Okay, the neon-green sign over this circular door might not be authentic. I don't know. 

This was the only place in the Palace where I noticed a circular orifice, and I'm pretty sure that little architectural detail was original. Am I wrong to think that it's perhaps suggestive of something?!

To a modern eye, the concubine's "job" may seem a little off-putting, but at least they lived with some degree of sumptuous comfort. I especially enjoyed the light fixture with the tassels.

Looking the other way, we see another circular doorway with labial drapery. Perhaps the writing desk is historical, but I don't know that the concubines had such liberties afforded to them.

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