Destinations

Forbidden scandal in China

What goes on behind closed doors stays behind closed doors, it is said. That is certainly true of those who dwelt in the Forbidden City – the inhabitants of yesteryear took their secrets with them to the grave.

The man behind the construction of the world's largest complex was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Yong Le. A successful but tyrannical ruler, during his reign (1402 to 1429) he was responsible for an unprecedented series of ambitious projects that included moving the Chinese capital from Nanjing to Beijing and building what would become one of the world's most dazzling architectural masterpieces – the Forbidden City.

Ancient Chinese astronomers believed that the Purple Star, Polaris, was located in the centre of heaven. Yong Le decided that the palace for the emperor on earth was therefore to be called the Purple City and that it would be forbidden for common people to enter without his permission.

Yong Le's three architects were given the brief to build an extravagant set of palaces to serve as the emperor's metropolis. Audience halls were needed for receiving delegations, together with temples for ritual purification and processional paths. 

Also required were large domestic quarters with gardens for himself and his family as well as administrative accommodation, a shrine for ancestral rites and temples of Buddhism, Lamaism and Taoism. The emperor's home, called the Palace of Heavenly Purity, was painted purple, representing the centre of the universe. The complex became known as the Purple Forbidden City and then simply as the Forbidden City.

Construction began in 1406 and took 14 years to complete, with an estimated 200,000 labourers involved. It was built in accordance with ancient rules of spatial design, which specified that the main buildings should be aligned along a straight axis from south to north, flanked by a symmetrical arrangement of minor structures on parallel axes. Occupying 720,000 square metres and with walls 10 metres high, it was a monumental undertaking.

This was also a world of privilege and prestige. Depending upon status, each rank in the royal family would dine from colour-coded plates, cups and bowls. Only the emperor and empress were entitled to use real gold or radiant yellow porcelain. Suppliers for the Forbidden City lived in neighbourhoods outside its walls. Among these were Wet-Nurse Lane, inhabited by wet nurses recruited from all over China to breast-feed the Imperial nursery, and Clothes-Washing Lane, the Imperial laundry. The Forbidden City had stables for elephants that were given as gifts to the Ming emperors from the rulers of Burma. Dung from the elephants was even made into shampoo.

Emperors were entitled to several wives and many concubines – well-educated women selected from the best Manchu families. The concubines lived in sheer opulence, with departments run by eunuchs catering to their every whim. Though they wanted for nothing, they were forbidden to leave the harem and their every move was spied upon by a secret police force run by senior eunuchs.

In 1421 there was a terrible bloodbath when Emperor Yong Le, who was known as a despot, tried to suppress a sex scandal that threatened to humiliate him, after learning that one his favourite concubines had committed suicide after being caught having a relationship with a eunuch. Afraid his political enemies would see him as a weak ruler, he ordered the killing of all 2800 occupants of his harem – his concubines, servant girls and the eunuchs who guarded them.

After serving as the home of 24 emperors – 14 of the Ming Dynasty and 10 of the Qing Dynasty – the Forbidden City ceased being the political centre of China in 1912, when the last emperor Puyi was forced to abdicate, although he was held in the complex until 1924. Named a World Heritage Site in 1987, the Forbidden City is considered the world's most centralised museum of Chinese art, culture and history. It's referred to by many Chinese as The Great Within and to the wider world, much of what took place within its walls will remain an eternal secret.

 


SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Comments are closed.

Destinations

Qld closes border to NSW, WA reinstates hard border with SA, trans-Tasman bubble suspended, and Victoria calls for “ring of steel” around Sydney

Yes, we got a bit carried away with the headline, but there has been A LOT going in in the last 24 hours that you all should be fully aware of.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Carnival Cruise Line’s longstanding Aussie VP exits, replacement named

Carnival’s Jennifer Vandekreeke has hailed herself a water taxi and headed back to shore. We’re going to assume the fare was pretty expensive.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

The Star pulls Crown merger proposal over Royal Commission “issues”

by Huntley Mitchell

The future of James Packer’s casino empire is looking bleaker by the minute, with The Star no longer interested in teaming up.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

New data reveals the COVID jab that will get you the most stamps on your vaccine passport

When it comes to international travel, it’s becoming clear that not all COVID-19 vaccines are created equal. However, this new data might just surprise you.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Domestic border restrictions force Rex to cut capacity

And, to make matters even more complicated, the airline is expecting a couple more aircraft to join its domestic fleet very soon.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

“Michelin Guide” of home sharing knocks back 97 per cent of hosts who apply

The homes listed on this new Airbnb competitor’s website are far more attractive than most people we know. Then again, we’ve not been getting out much lately.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Almost 75pc of Carnival’s fleet to be operational by end of 2021

The world’s largest cruise company is gradually getting some meat back on its bones, but it won’t quite have that pre-pandemic girth by the end of the year.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Helloworld agent wins appeal over COVID-19 refund worth over $9,000

by Ali Coulton

With a little help from her friends at AFTA, this agent managed to score a landmark win for the travel trade.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

AirlineRatings.com reveals the world’s best airline for 2021

Aussie airlines fared well in this year’s awards, but the accolade of top dog (or in this instance, top bird) went to an overseas carrier.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Travel industry reacts to Brisbane’s 2032 Olympics win

While Queensland’s capital was a shoo-in to snare the Games for 2032, it was still a bloody nice bit of news for Aussies to wake up to this morning.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Marriott makes “all-important” senior appointment

Sean Hunt has donned the overalls to install a vital new cog in Marriott’s revenue machine. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

Globus and Cosmos break sales record with release of 2022 local trips

Get in quick, folks! One trip had already sold half of its departures within two days of its release!

Share

CommentComments