of Celestial Purity
Inside the Gate of
Celestial Purity (QianQingMen), the first building
you will see is the Palace of Celestial Purity
or Palace of Heavenly Purity (QianQingGong). It
is the smaller twin of the Hall of Supreme Harmony.
Hence there is a smaller sun-dial, smaller tortoises,
smaller grain measure, smaller storks and other smaller
scale items. However, it is the largest structure in the
Inner Court. It was built in 1420 and rebuilt in 1798.
Sometimes this palace was used as the
emperors' bedroom palace - the Ming emperors and the
first two Qing emperors lived inside this palace and
attended to daily state affairs there. Later, Emperor
YongZheng moved his living quarters to the Hall of
Mental Cultivation, which is located directly to the
west of this palace. However, it still played a
significant role in the imperial life. Foreign
ambassadors were also received here.
Banquets and rites occasionally would
be held here too. For example, in 1722 and 1785, a
'Banquet for a Thousand Seniors' was held here. Old men
over 60 from the nation presented the events. Emperor
QianLong sent them presents afterwards.
Moreover, during the Qing
dynasty, no matter where the emperor died, his coffin
would be placed in this palace for a few days to hold
memorial ceremonies. Later, the coffin would be moved to
GuanDeDian (Hall for Observing Military Virtue) in
JingShan. Finally, the deceased emperor was buried in the
imperial mausoleum on a selected day.
In the middle of the palace, the throne
sits on a raised platform with stairs in front,
surrounded by decorations like cloisonne incense burners,
long red candles and large mirrors, which were placed
beside the throne to ward off evil spirits (this belief
is still deeply rooted in the minds of many Chinese).
On the two nearest columns, there are
couplets written by Qing emperors. Over the throne hangs
a plaque engraved with 4 Chinese characters, written by
Emperor YongZheng, that mean 'Justice and Brightness', or
'to be fair and open'.
From the time of Emperor
YongZheng, the secretly chosen crown prince's name would
be written on duplicate documents and one copy would be
hidden in a box behind the plaque. The other copy would
be kept with the emperor. If the designated names on the
two copies were the same, the designated prince could
ascend to the throne.
The last emperor, PuYi, was married in
December 1922 in this Palace.
: The Hall of Celestial and Terrestrial Union