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Hall of Mental Cultivation:
Eight emperors' personal office, study, and bedroom

Updated: Oct 08, 2018 Print


Bedroom of the Hall of Mental Cultivation [Photo/]

The compound of Hall of Mental Cultivation (Yangxin dian) was where the Qing dynasty top imperial orders were conceived and issued after 1723, the commencement of the Yongzheng reign (1723-1735). The Yongzheng emperor had the entire area repurposed from the former imperial workshop to the imperial office where he lived and handled state affairs. Eight emperors of later generations worked and lived here. The Yongzheng emperor summoned mandarins to the hall to discuss political issues, and extensively reviewed the incoming palace memorials till late at night, working industriously to make his government function efficiently (extant palace memorials reveal that he occasionally wrote mistaken characters or left sentences unfinished after a long night of studying the memorials to frame his responses). Yet sometimes he expressed whimsical, vulgar or affectionate sentiments in his vermillion rescripts to release strong emotions. His son the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736-1795) kept three cherished 4th-century calligraphic masterpieces in the westernmost chamber of the Hall and named the chamber the "Hall of Three Rarities" (Sanxi tang). The connecting chambers in the east side are where the practice of "ruling behind a curtain" (chuilian tingzheng) by Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) took place in late Qing dynasty. The rear rooms of the Hall were the emperor's drawing room and bedroom; the couplets hanging on one of the doorframes are inscribed with content with which every ordinary household would agree: "Wealth and fortune are but a passing scene, yet peace and safety are as lasting as gold." (Fugui sanchun jing, ping'an liangzi jin, 富贵三春景,平安两字金)



The hall is in the immediate vicinity of the Palace of Heavenly Purity (Qianqing gong) - a major hall in the Inner Court, the Six Western Palaces (living quarters of the imperial wives and consorts), and the Grand Council of State (Junji chu).

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