Hong Kong Palace Museum: How to Celebrate the Lunar New Year Like an Emperor

written by Rebecca CairnsKristi Lou Stout, CNN

It is the Lunar New Yr. An 18th-century household, dressed of their best ceremonial garments, sits all the way down to a lavish banquet in a room adorned with auspicious banners.

This scene will likely be acquainted to many households throughout China and the world, as they take pleasure in their symbolic festivities, traditions and meals through the vacation interval, which started on Sunday. However there are just a few necessary variations: the recent pot dish is ornately embellished with cloisonné enamel, the markings are set in turquoise, jade, and ruby, and the patriarch’s alternative of costume is a silk gown with dragon motifs hand-stitched in gold thread. It’s a appropriate Lunar New Yr for the Emperor.

“It is a symphony of the senses,” mentioned Daisy Wang, deputy director of the Hong Kong Palace Museum, the place these Qing Dynasty treasures are on show in a second-floor gallery specializing in day by day life in Beijing’s imperial palace.

Wang added, “You need to think about what the emperor and his household would hear, what they might style, what they might contact, and what smells they may scent.” “We now have to make use of all our senses to think about what occurred 300 years in the past contained in the Forbidden Metropolis.”

The $450 million constructing opened final summer season and comprises a rotating assortment of greater than 900 treasures on mortgage from Beijing’s Forbidden Metropolis, from uncommon porcelain to delicate scroll work. The museum celebrates its first Lunar New Yr by inviting guests to witness how one in every of China’s longest-reigning emperors celebrated the event, via the auspicious items on show.

Decipher the previous

Wang mentioned that the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Qianlong, was “some of the highly effective rulers on earth within the eighteenth century.” He was ruling over an unlimited area that in all probability had a inhabitants of greater than 300 million folks.”

His reign, from 1735 to 1796, was additionally marked by a flourishing of the humanities and creativity within the nation. Generally known as an erudite and erudite, he revealed greater than 40,000 poems throughout his lifetime, and amassed an infinite assortment of historical and commissioned imperial artwork throughout his six-decade reign.

In all places you look within the Palace Museum’s exhibit, the emperor’s penchant for luxurious is obvious, from hanging panels that includes jade floral motifs to a pair of gold plates. Pumpkin decorations. The latter, embellished with semi-precious stones and that includes the Chinese language characters for “nice wealth,” is amongst greater than 60 gourd-shaped decorations commissioned by Emperor Qianlong to brighten the Forbidden Metropolis through the Spring Competition in 1746 alone.

Some of the Lunar New Year-related items on display in the gallery include a pair of golden gourd motifs.

A few of the Lunar New Yr-related objects on show within the gallery embody a pair of golden gourd motifs. credit score: CNN

As with many artworks, they comprise “hidden meanings,” Wang mentioned. She added that the fertility image, or “hulu,” has a reputation much like the Chinese language phrases for “auspicious” and “wealth.”

The Emperor wasn’t simply commissioning artworks, although: His extravagant style prolonged to his wardrobe. “(He) by no means requested for (solely) one piece of clothes,” Wang mentioned. “It at all times needed to be two, 4, six.”

He has been identified to alter his garments as much as seven instances a day, one of many standout clothes on show on the truthful is a gown adorned with intricately hand-stitched dragons flying between fluffy clouds and encased in golden thread.

This Royal Dragon Robe was one of the Qianlong Emperor's finest ceremonial garments.

This Royal Dragon Gown was one of many Qianlong Emperor’s best ceremonial clothes. credit score: CNN

Acquainted traditions

Savoring intensive banquets, typically consisting of hotpot, dumplings, and roast duck, the emperor’s eating habits—and the serving dishes and utensils used—will likely be acquainted to many. In response to Wang, Qianlong cherished hotpot a lot that he ate 200 such meals in a single yr, which some imagine contributed to his longevity (he died in his late 80s).

Lunar New Yr’s feasts had been particular for the emperor as a result of it could be one of many only a few events he was allowed to eat in the identical room with household and buddies. “Due to security considerations, he often ate alone,” mentioned Wang.

An expensive hot pot used by the Qianlong Emperor.  While it is beautifully decorated using the cloisonné technique, its brass interior makes it fully functional.

An costly scorching pot utilized by the Qianlong Emperor. Whereas it’s fantastically embellished utilizing the cloisonné approach, its brass inside makes it absolutely purposeful. credit score: CNN

The imperial objects he used, apart from being gilded and encrusted with jewels, reveal what number of traditions have remained intact.

“One of many issues that stunned me was how comparable the best way we rejoice the Lunar New Yr is to our follow as we speak.

“I hope that guests will come to narrate these historical issues to their very own lives.”

Watch the video above for an inside have a look at the Lunar New Yr objects on show on the Hong Kong Palace Museum.

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