Tales & History attached to the Yu Huan Yuan Garden -
The Palace Harden (Yu Huan Yuan) was originally built in the year 1417 A.D. and saw its original opening together with the rest of the Forbidden City on the 1st day of the Lunar New Year of 1420 A.D. At a later date, in the year 1535 A.D. the Garden saw a major restructuring in which the Palace of Imperial Palace (Qin 'An Dian) was built along the central line of the Imperial Garden, and the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Springs added in the East and the Pavilion
This page was last updated on: June 26, 2017
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Tourists study the direction signs inside the Imperial Garden of the Palace Museum (Januari 2000 AD).
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The Hill of Soaring Elegance was added during the Wanli reign (1572 A.D. - 1620 A.D.) of the Ming Dynasty and other structures such as the Pavilion of Floating Greenery and its sister Pavilion of Deposited Jade constructed in 1583 A.D., were even added at a later date.
Several Chinese Sources mention that at the Mid Autumn Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the Lunar Month, the Emperor and Empress would come to the garden to enjoy the sight of the full moon.
At some time a fountain system with two stone sprouts shaped like dragon heads was installed in garden at the base of the Hill of Soaring Elegance. Most likely, this system was designed by the sub-director of the Mathematics Department, one jesuit father named Ferdinand Verbiest. As such it was installed in- or around the year 1670 A.D., during the rule of the Kangxi Emperor (Reign: 1661 A.D. - 1722 A.D.) of the Qing Dynasty. The work that Verbiest achieved for the Chinese Court and its Imperial Power had already been substantial, in effect making him irreplacable at Court. He had twice proven himself superior in the making of a Calendar, he had twice produced field guns for the Imperial Army helping to outmaneuver the "Three Feudatories Rebellion", he had designed new instruments for the Imperial Observatory and the installation of the fountain system was just another demonstration of how -in some cases- western knowledge and skill surpasssed that of the Eastern World (China). As the Kangxi Emperor was highly intelligent and openminded about learning new useful things, a hithertho unique relationship developed in which Verbiest became the mathematics and science "Tutor" of the Kangxi Emperor, also making contact with others in the upper circles of Court. Interestingly, the Jesuits are said to have helped with the construction (and perhaps maintenance) of a miniature star observatory, which was situated somewhere in the Forbidden City (at a location yet undetermined). In the same year that the fountain was installed, 1670, Verbiest is also documented to have created a camera obscura type instrument, which projected an image from the outside of the Palace Walls into a room of the Inner Court (Nei Ting).
It is said that during his 15Th life year, when he was still only Prince Hong Li - the fourth son of Emperor YongZheng, the later Qianlong Emperor met the love of his life inside this garden. It was Yan'Er, a beautiful palace maiden. The two only briefly met.
It was a fateful day, mainly for Yan'Er, who was killed, ordered to commit suicide over her small meeting friendship with the Prince. Afterwards, the pond where the Emperor met the fair lady would remain a place where he would sit and stare at the water and the affair set the tone for further relations at court leaving a bitter memory to last the Emperor a life-time.
An overview Map of the Yuhuan Yuan Garden showing all main structures within. Do not be confused the Northern Chun Cheng Men Gate is at the bottom of the image whereas the southern Gate of Earthly Tranquility is shown at the top.
Palace of Imperial Peace
Gate of Earthly Tranquility
Chastise Obience Gate
Hill of Soaring Elegance
Hall of Literary Elegance
Pavilion Tne Thousand Springs
Pavilion Ten Thousand Years
Lodge ot Nourish-ment
Pavilion of Crimson Snow
Pavilion Ushering in the Light
Pavilion Deposited Jade
Pavilion Floating Greenery
One Heavenly Gate
In the year 1803, the soothing peace of the Imperial Garden was crudely disturbed when the Jiaqing Emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644 A.D. - 1911 A.D.) while on the way to his private quarters through the garden encountered an armed man within. As the Emperor fled he was chased all the way to the Chastise Obedience Gate. None of the members of his Imperial Guard made efforts to save the Emperor, however at Chastise Obiendence Gate the Imperial Dignity was saved by the intervening of several high ranking ministers and their personal bodyguards who overcame the would be assassin.
The whole event was a terrible desecration of the sanctity of the Garden and the "Imperial Within", not to mention the obvious completely lack of the necessary respect for the Emperors "natural" authority. As a result of his grave dead, the verdict on the man was hard. He was sentenced to what was considered the
lowest, most undignified and most painfull way to die, the so called "death by a 1000 cuts".
In the Last Few Years of the inhabitation of the Palace under the abdicated Qing Emperor Xuan Tong (Reign: 1908 - January 1912) a.k.a Pu Yi, the garden would become a center of important inter-actions between the Eastern World represented by the "Emperor" himself and the Western World of Imperialist Powers as represented by Reginal Fleming Johnston, who since 1919 had become the "English Tutor" to the Young Emperor. Although "Class" was attended at the "Hall of Mental Cultivation", the garden and some of its structures also played an important role in the new teachings of that short era.
As Reginald Johnston became an important source of information, and of sorts a role model for the young Emperor Pu Yi, Johsnton was assigned offices at the "Lodge of the Nourishment of Nature (also know as the Hall of Character Cultivation)" adjacent the south-west corner of the Imperial Garden. During subsequent times the Emperor often received private one on teachings from Johnston, during long sessions at the "Lodge of the Nourishment of Nature". Even later, when the two had become close friends and the relations were even more relaxed, the classroom was more or less extened into the Garden. An often told story on the Forbidden City tells of how the Emperor learned to drive a bicycle, with which he pedalled around the Palace. The bicycle was introduced to the Emperor by Johnston, and on on another occasion, on October 20 of 1923, Tutor Johnston introduced the young Emperor and his classmates for the first time to the Game of Tennis.
TO READ MORE ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN JOHNSTON AND EMPEROR PU YI, visit :