Saturday, July 10, 2010
Living Quarters of the Dowager Empress Ci'xi: January 21, 1946
This is a photograph taken by my father of the front entrance of the Hall of Joyful Longevity at the Summer Palace outside Beijing. The image was taken during a visit on January 21, 1946.
This building was the summer residence of Empress Dowager Ci’xi from April to October. An earlier residence stood on this site until it was destroyed in 1860 by the Allied Anglo-French Force. The Empress Dowager had this reconstructed in 1889.
The foreground of this photo features a pair of bronze deer, two cranes and one of two large bronze vases. My father’s notation in the photo albums states “Bronze deer and Phoenix Incense burner.” Deers are symbols of longevity since the Chinese believe that deers are the only creatures that can find the lingzhi fungus of immortality.
I was intrigued to find a reference to an electric chandelier that hangs from the ceiling in a sitting room. It was installed in 1903, and it is said to be the first electric light ever introduced in China. For further details about the Hall of Joyful Longevity go to this link.