The Palace of Gathering Excellence for a long period was the main residential hall of the Empress-Dowager Cixi within the Imperial Palace ("Forbidden City"). It remained her residence until her retirement, upon which occasion she moved her house to the Palace of Peaceful Old Age, which had been established by the Qianlong Emperor upon his retirement from Office in the year 1799 A.D.
It is true that standing within the couryard one does feel rather cramped and as if in someway overpowered or pressed down by the atmosphere within. The Palaces' decorations have long withered here and their colors faded. The roof linings are protected by chicken gauze and almost as by instinct, most people feel an urge to move on to "better pastures". However, the couryard is blocked off on all sides, either by solemn fronts of halls or the thick red walls of the inner court. The only gate, a minor wooden door in the north-west corner is usually closed so people are caught browsing about this corner, their crowding adding to the cramping feeling.
On first glance there is nothing very remarkable about the Main Hall which stands to the North, the "Hall of Beautiful Vista's (or Sceneries)". It is an oblong rectangular Hall, with red beams, wide windows above which weathered decorations in a traditional style, and a roof with upturned eaves, ritual animals along its lines and covered by the usual Yellow Ceramic Tiles that are distinct for the Imperial Palace of Beijing. Northing distinguishes it from other Palace Halls except for its more notable history.
The Hall of Beautiful Vista's as well as its adjoining side-halls were built in the year 1535
Soundbonus - National Anthem of the Manchukuo Puppet State, nominally headed by Pu Yi, however in reality under full Japanese Command.
"six western palaces" the largest exhibition on the life of Emperor Pu Yi can be found here at the western side-hall to the "Hall of Beautiful Vista's".
The Pu Yi exhibition within this Hall consists of Three Parts - The first part shows how Pu Yi was adopted as the Emperor Guanxu's Son and became the heir to The Throne.
The last and third section of the Room deal with wedding of Emperor Pu Yi and Empress Wan Rong (Beautiful Face) in 1922 AD. Various historic relics, such as the Xuan Tong Emperor's seals of office, items from his school-kit and the bicycle he rode within the "Forbidden City", as well as a wide variety of photos are on display, making this hidden corner of the Imperial Palace
Entering the exhibition Hall for the late "Last Emperor" Pu Yi in the Palace Museum , found in a side-hall of the Lijing Xuan a.k.a. the Hall of Beautiful Vista's.
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Satellite Overview of the 6 western palaces of the Inner Court. From Top to bottom and left to right these are: The Palace of Complete Happiness, Palace of Gathering Excellence, Palace of Eternal Spring, Palace of Bringing forth of Blessings to Mother Earth, Palace of Great Supremacy and last the Palace of Immortality in the south-east corner.
Hall of Beautiful Vista's - How to Get There :
a wortwhile place to pay a visit to during your tour of the Palace Museum.
Other exhibitions and halls including relics of the Life and Reign of "Last Emperor" Pu Yi can be found at the Palace of Mental Cultivation (Yang Xin Dian), his main residential palace due south of the "Six Western Palaces", at the "Palace of Bringing Forth of Blessings" (Yu Qing Gong) which served as the first Class Room for the Emperor Pu Yi's tutelage and often at the Hall of Military Eminence (Wu Ying Dian) of the outer court which today serves at the main exhibition hall for highlighting the literary achievements of the Ming and Qing Dynasty Era's.
One of the first ever photo's of the "Child Emperor" Pu Yi, together with his younger brother Pu Yieh at the "Northern Mansion" the home of his father, the 2nd Prince Chun in the Dongcheng District of Beijing.
The photo appears in just about every book that is written about China's last feudal Emperor.
Although upon a first visit the Hall of Beautiful Vista's seems to be thoroughly hidden in a small and difficult to find corner inside the residential maze of the vast
Imperial Palace, for anyone coming informed it should not be too difficult to locate within a short time.
After having reached the garden through the Chastise Obience Gate, while facing south, simply keep to the right (and west) while walking through the gardens. Keep moving on past several pavilions until reaching some rockeries behind which the front porch of the "Lodge of the Nourishment of Nature" is hidden. Pauze here to orientate yourself.
another spectacular glazed and decorated gate which leads out of the garden and opens up into a gargantuan red and very long corridor leading towards the horizon in the south. This corridor is the "western long corridor" a main thoroughfare to reach the "six western palaces" as well as a multitude of other structures deep within the Palace City.
To move on from the garden to the "Hall of Beautiful Vista's" simply leave the garden through this south-western gate to turn into the "western long corridor". Pay attention as you head south along the corridor as after passing through a second and more minor glazed gate, there is a large wooden door framed on the right hand (west side) into the thick red wall. This is the first gate that gives access to the Palace of Gathering Excellence Complex, which is the north-easternmost Palace of all the "six western palaces" combined.
The Emperor Pu Yi exhibit is a permanent feature exhibit held inside the western side-hall of this court. The Hall of Vista's itself
Exterior of the side-hall of the Hall of Beautiful Vista's due north of the Hall of Gathering Excellence. Photo: November 2005.
can also be visited , it being representative of some of the western styles of furniture adopted by the Empress-Dowager Hsu-Tzi when she had this Palace refurbished in order to celebrate her 50th birthday.
A copy of an early Court Portrait of the Empress-Dowager at the Exhibition Hall for Pu Yi.
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As was so vividly brought to life to be viewed by a world audience in the oscar winning film "The Last Emperor" (Best Film 1987) the boy Emperor Pu Yi, to be the Last Emperor of China, was crowned in the "Forbidden City" in Beijing in the year 1908. He thereafter lived within the Palace walls until his final expulsion in the year 1924. Although the Pu Yi Exhibit in the Side-Hall of the Hall of Great Vista's only deals with three distinct events in the Palace career of Pu Yi, it should be good to summarize the distinct events and periods in his life in brief.
The boy to become known as Pu Yi, the Last Emperor was born on February the 7Th of the year 1906 A.D. in the Northern Mansion in the "Tartar City" of Beijing, the home of his father, the 2nd Prince Chun.
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History of the Hall of Beautiful Vista's and its Side-Halls :
Most of which is known about this Palace dates from the twilight years of the Qing Dynasty, after the year 1852 when Lady Yehonala, winning the lustful eye of the Emperor reportedly due to her unusual sexual skills, was promoted to higher rank, being created the honourable person Lan. Yehonella, now Lady Yan, one of the main concubines, gave birth to the (later) Emperor Tongzhi here at the Palace of Gathering Excellence in the year 1856. As the mother of the ruling Emperor's eldest son she was then promoted to the rank of concubine Yi.
After the year 1856 A.D. she was moved to the official Palace of the Empress, the Palace of Earthly Tranquility (Kun Ning Gong), however in 1884, the by then Empress Dowager Cixi moved her residence back to this palace in celebration of her 50th birthday.
Emperor as his son and it will be he who will be crowned as Emperor.
At sunrise on December the 2nd of 1908 father Prince Chun makes offerings at the "Altar of Heaven" at the Temple of Heaven (Tiantan) and not much later Pu Yi is crowned as Emperor in the Hall of Supreme Harmony in the "Forbidden City", taking the reign title of Xuan Tong. Although the boy will in theory be Supreme Ruler of all under heaven, in reality it is the beginning of a controlled life frought with difficulties.
In 1909, after the Death of the Powerful Empress-Dowager Cixi the Qing Empire was fast falling into its final decline. Burdonned by war-penalties, impossible foreign loans, corruption and after military disintegration in the 1900 AD "Boxer War" now total political chaos, the time was ripe for change.
There had long been talk of deposing the Monarchy and various revolutionaries had argued for decades against the Qing. Outside the Palace Walls but in the Imperial Capital itself, a new generation of restless young men had cut their cues off, chosing
Some of the seals pertaining the Pu Yi's dealing in office as Emperor, although hapless and inept Prince Chun would be the Regent - Mouse over Image.
In 1911 A.D. several uprisings, among which mainly the so-called Wuchang Uprising was the most succesful, occurred in the south, wheras the region of Ningxia revolted under the "White Dragon" tearing itself way from the Manchu Dynasty.
As if this was not bad enough, General Yuan Shi-Kai, supreme commander of the westernized "Peiping Army" and incontrol of defense of the Imperial Capital proved once more utterly untrustworthy, announcing that he would negotiate with the "Republican Side" rather than meet them in do- or die battle. The "Traitor General" as he would become known had his own plans and instead of taking on the task of its protection was about to deliver the death sting to the Manchu Dynasty.
On December 6 of 1911, Puyi's father, Prince Chun, was dismissed from his role of the Prince Regent and with the court facing impending doom after the success of the Xinhai Revolution, the Empress Dowager Longyu took over Supreme Matters of the Court.
At some time in 1912, aged 6, Pu Yi began his education.
His first and foremost Tutor was his old chinese Mentor Chen Bao-Chen who would teach him writing, caligraphy, some mathematics and the general ways of the Confucian ways of the Court and the State.
By February 12 of 1912 AD Pu Yi had officially abdicated The Throne in exchange for the five rules of favorable treatment, which as historians have noted was a rather unique arrangement somewhat similar to Italy's Law of Guarantees, promulgated in 1870, which accorded the Pope certain honors and privileges similar to those enjoyed by the King of Italy.
A copy of one of the official court photos taken of the child Emperor Pu Yi sitting on his throne, not long after his crowning - Mouse over Image.
However the Courtiers and many loyalists throughout the nation were still hoping for a return of the Qing Dynasty. Regardless of there being a Republican Government supposedly running all of China, the Emperor remained within the Imperial Palace, powerless, but symbolically still on the throne in his lair the "Forbidden City". Few new what went on inside its "Purple Walls". Therefor - as usual, the show at court had to go on.
On February 15 of 1912, three days after the abdication of the Emperor, Yuan Shi-Kai, albeit grudgingly, was declared the First President of the "Republic of China".
In 1922, while planning his possible personal getaway from the control of his two Empress-Dowagers by organizing his studying abroad at a Foreign, British, University Pu Yi is confronted with a procedure to serve the arrangements for his marriage. Although officially because the Empress-Dowagers had "Considered that the Xuan Tong Emperor soon to be coming of Age and able to Rule as Emperor, the young Pu Yi needed an Empress", the marriage will also help ensure the Emperor remains tied to the Palace. The selected girl was Wan Rong (Beuatiful Face), a young lady of fine descent who was considered the prettiest of the Lot, but more importantly, being a Grand Daughter of the Manchu General Jung Lu her marriage reinforced the position of the Yehonella Clan of the wicked old Empress Dowager Cixi. At the same Time, Wen Xiu "the fat girl", was coronated as Number One Concubine. As Pu Yi himself recalled it, the Empress-Dowagers of the Guangxu Emperor, fearing he might be disappointed with the arrangements, also offered the Emperor he could have all the other girls on the photos as his concubines as well, should he wish so. Pu Yi however declined being more interested in the matter of his coming of age as an Emperor, than in having one, or more wives.
According to the Imperial Clans ancient customs a traditional wedding was celebrated at the Imperial Palace on December the 1st of 1922.
The grandiose wedding attracted a large flock of Guest from the various Embassies from the nearby (Foreign) Legation Quarter. Ambassadors, government officials from throughout the land, and even the influential media including the Foreign Press were giving presence. In the evening a giving thanks Dinner Party was thrown by the Young Emperor at the Gate of Heavenly Purity (Qian Qing Men), entertaining the entire large square filled with guest with a western styled buffet. This reception was for Foreign Dignitaries only.
As a token of good relations and the generosity of their well wishers, Pu Yi and his Empress received a great many gifts, some of which can be found on exhibit inside the side-hall of the "Hall of Beautiful Vista's".
Famously, following the night after the celebrations, Wan Rong was undressed and wrapped in red, deposited on the "Dragon Bed" awaiting her new husband Emperor and Pu Yi, rather under-performed.
There are several versions of this story, the most acknowledged one today given by Pu Yi himself through the book "From Emperor to Citizen".
One of the Displays of the exhibition features the wedding portraits of Emperor "Pu Yi" and the Empress Wan Rong and several items relating to the High-End Wedding. Below: Among the displayed items there are so-called "Red Letter Envelopes", lucky golden coins, The Seal used to stamp the Imperial Edict declaring the wedding and a scroll containing the wedding vows of the Royal Couple.
In the summer of 1919 the now renowned Englishman Sir Reginald Fleming Johnston was brought to the court to lecture and teach the young Emperor in western ways. The introduction of Reginald Johnston opened an entirely new episode in the Emperor's previously secluded life.
Johnston mainly tought English, History and Geography but the subjects and philosophizing went much further. Johnston's regular presence at the Court would have a profound influence on Pu Yi, as partially depicted in the Film "The Last Emperor". Pu Yi prefered the lessons from his British Tutor much over those of his classic confucian Mentor Chen Boa-Chen, and the two soon became friends of sorts.
While the latter taught what seemed the old, Pu Yi was able to absorb a lot of new knowledge, seemingly much more practical than the ancient Chinese Confucian texts taught y Chen Bao-Chen from his British Tutor Johnston. The young Emperor was delighted, impressed and soon in idolation of western ways, western technology and most of all anything British.
As is highlighted beautifully at the western side-hall of the Hall of Beautiful Vista's, with the help of his tutor, and with the aid of such things as films and photographs, the Emperor became the most modernized person at court (except for perhaps Johnston) altering his thoughts, ways and his appearance in many, often surprising ways.
Many exhibited relics from that interesting time at the secluded and abdicated court of "Peking" help bring to life some of the most told stories. All stationary, books and other items displayed displayed in the Pu Yi exhibition in the Palace Museum are authentic and were the actual ones used in the education of Last Emperor Pu Yi, which makes everything just that more intriguing.
In 1920, a after a year of teaching Johnston managed to convince the Empress-Dowagers that the presence of "certain classmates" might help stimulate the interest of the Emperor in his teachings and the class-room environment.
Not very much later telephones were installed in the Palace ...
By the year 1922 Johnston had consolidated a considerable position influence versus the young Emperor and was given various titles, including the rank of the highest order of the mandarins of the Court of the Emperor.
Items relating to Emperor Pu Yi's education under the British "Gentleman" Reginald Johnston. Most notable among various historical relics is the bicycle that Pu Yi famously rode inside the Forbidden City.
this pavilion extremely conveniently located for him to park or get his bicycle at will, and move about the Inner Court (Nei Ting).
There is a photograph of Pu Yi leaning against a bicycle somewhere in the Inner Court. He is dressed in a light colored jacket and shorts,
Above: A closer view of the scroll with the "wedding vows" of Pu Yi and Wan Rong.
wearing a knee-length stockings and white leather shoes, with a peaked cap appearing a a very dandy young man. To be wearing such clothing in those days was nothing less than a profanity, and a sacreledge according to the standards of the old feudal order which the elders at court, especially the Empress-Dowager Longyu, still clung to.
In early September of 1924 a major war between the major rivalling warlords spills over from the Yangtze River basin into northern China as the troops of Wu Pei Fu position themselves to do battle with the troops of the Manchurian warlord Chang Tso-Lin. As has become the expected in Chinese affairs,while Wu Pei Fu moves on the historic pass of Shanhaiguan, the troops of his ally Feng Yu-Xian abandon the battle plan wholesale, instead of holding a vital pass at Chengde rolling southward to occupy the defenseless "Northern Capital" of Beijing. It was a brilliant political move as "he who holds the Capital is he who holds the power", however as for the Imperial Court, the supposed loyalties of the warlord Feng Yu-xian lay with his Russian financial backers, and as for his personal motives, although he was dubbed "The Christian General" Feng Yu-xian was rumored to have communist sympathies. Johnston at least, was convinced that he and his troops formed a major threat to the abdicated but still living Royal Court of Pu Yi.
A Photo of the Empress Wan Rong in her wedding attire hangs above various gifts given by the International Diplomats and Dignitaries at the grand wedding reception held at the Palace. Among things a Tuba, a board game, mechanical clock of western design and some ceramic plates depicting typically "British" scenes.
Supposedly "saved" from the hands of the supposed communist sypathizer "Christian General" Feng Yu-Xian who had them expelled from the Palace, Pu Yi then moved to ask for asylum within the grounds of the Japanese Legation (Today: the Militarily Administrated compound of the Central Beijing Government, a well guarded site with entrances at Zhengyi Road (Frmr. Canal Street), as well as on former East Legation Street and Taijichang Jie, the former Rue Marco Polo in the French section of the Legations Quarter of the past. It can be said that this move marks the beginning of Pu Yi's dramatic
during the Ming Dynasty. Many centuries later, during the rule of Emperor Xian Feng of the Qing Dynasty, one of his many concubines, the lady Yehonella, once was assigned this Hall as her living quarters and so it became the very "room" of the Palace where she gave birth to the Emperor Xian Feng's first born son, the boy who was later to become the Emperor Tongzhi (Reign: 11 November 1861 A.D. – 12 January 1875 A.D ; although during most of this period the Empress-Dowager Cixi was the real Monarch).
Altogether nothing much of that glorious and most joyous day can be felt our found at or inside the Palace however. Long after the day of the birth of the Tongzhi Emperor, after she had become the powerful Empress-Dowager, the true power behind the throne of her young son, Hsu-Tzi (Cixi) announced her plan to return her residence to this Palace at the time of her 50th birthday. In the process of rebuilding and refurbishing the entire "Palace of Gathering Excellence" complex, the exteriors of these halls were repainted and the interiors dramatically altered.
Unusually, especially for a staunch conservative such as herself, the Empress-Dowager opted for an entirely foreign look and the interiors of the Hall of Beautiful Vista's as well as the Western Side-Hall where the Pu Yi exhibition is hosted, remain entirely done in a European Colonial or perhaps entirely British style. It is hard to tell while browsing the Pu Yi exhibit that the side-hall has European decoration, as only the wall-paper of the original room remains.
As a result, today there is a small exquisite stage inside the Hall of Beautiful Vista's where reportedly the Empress Dowager Cixi sat on the imperial bed opposite the stage to enjoy the performance of theatrical troupe at her leisure. " In the side-hall of the Pu Yi Exhibition a similar stage, large enough to serve a salon orchestra, has been constructed in a corner. In the past it was the domain of musicians, but in the current exhibition set up the stage is in use
In the current, almost featureless emptiness of the western side-hall to the Hall of Vista's only the wallpaper and ceiling lamps remind of its decoration in the british european style.
to display one of Pu Yi's working desks and some of his familar items, thus outlining how modernized Pu Yi's thoughts had become at the time of the Tutelage by Reginald Fleming Johnston (1919 - 1924).
Among things the display features the globe which was used to educate the young Emperor Pu Yi, and familiarize him with a world outside of his own, which he had previously been told little about. One of the most inspiring objects of the exhibition hangs in the corner behind seemingly ready for use. Its is the now notorious telephone that the Emperor had installed in his room, which outrageously did away with the previous longstanding protocol that no one, except for his immediate comptrollers such as the Empress-Dowagers, would address the Emperor directly and in person. Although pleased with the
Central pieces of the exhibition are Pu Yi's rather exquisitely carved yet european styled working desk, featuring along with a western calendar and Pu Yi's antiquated telephone system.
installation of the telephone and seeing it as a major victory over the loathable "Eunuchs of the Palace", Tutor Johnston later became to regret his enthusiasm somewhat, as Pu Yi used the accursed apparatus to call upon him frequently with seemingly useless questions.
On the 23rd of February of 1925 Pu Yi arrives at the train station in the City of Tianjin, the city that sprung up at the crossing of the Hai River and the ancient Grand Canal. He finds his refuge in the Chang Garden (Chang Yuan) Mansion, in the Japanese "Concession" of the by then International City of Tianjin. The Chang Garden Mansion is placed under continuous guard by a detachment of the Japanese Secret Police which is housed in a building across the road.
The most memorable and politically most acceptable of the opposing warlords. Manchurian warlord General Chang Tso-Lin on the left, and Feng Yu-xian who took control of Beijing on the right.
Expulsion from the Palace, the Forbidden City in 1924:
On the 5Th of November of 1924 soldiers of the Army of Feng Yu-Xian, the man who is supposedly controlled by his Russian backers, disarm the Palace Guards and take control of the Palace. That very day the royal family and thus the remaining court, the entire retinue, are expelled from the Palace. They have to leave immediatly and ultimately find refuge at the "Northern Mansion", the home of father Prince Chun.
CAPTURE OF THE LAST EMPEROR BY SOVIET FORCES:
On August 6th of 1945 an atomic bomb is dropped on the Japanese City of Hiroshima. Two days later, on August the 8th, Russia finally declares war on the Empire of Japan, soon moving along a broad front into the Manchurian territories. The "liberation" of Manchuria by Russian Forces is the largest military operation of the end of the war in Eastern Asia.
A week after the Soviets declare war and attack Manchuria, Pu Yi flees from Shenyang towards the Korean border and while on the run, announces his abdication as Emperor of Manchukuo. His third abdication in a life-time. It would be his last.
On August the 17th of 1945 Pu Yi attempts his escape to Japan. He is however recognized and arrested by soviet troops. As an arrested high-level war criminal he is fled to Khabarovsk in Siberia, where he will be "placed under house arrest" and interrogated by the Soviet Military and Secret Service.
In June 1946, Empress Wan Rong dies in the Long White Mountains.
In October of 1946 Pu Yi is transported to Japan, in order to testify at the War Crimes Tribunal in Tokyo. Here he testifies against various of his former Japanese Overlords, implicating them and himself a numerous war crimes and atrocities committed by japanese soldiers as well as units of the Manchukuo Army.
Bonus media file: dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in August 1945.
In 1914 World War 1 breaks out in Europe, soon having implications for East Asia and the position of China as a Nation.
As regions revolt against Yuan Shi Kai's attempts to revive the feudal system and their regional "warlords" declare themselves independent from central rule, China descends into political chaos and favors sway in support of former Manchu House.
On April the 13th of 1916, Yuan Shi-Kai, having tried and failed to revive the Feudal Dynastic system by having himself crowned as Emperor of a new Dynasty, suddenly dies. It gets rid of a, by then, hated enemy of all Manchu clans.
On July the 1st of 1917, when Pu Yi is 11 years old, there is a seemingly succesful uprising of elements of the Army, Pu Yi is requested to resume his role as Emperor Xuan Tong Emperor of China. He gladly accepts. 8 Days later however, other armies move in and the revolt is extinguished, leaving Pu Yi no option but to abdicate once more, while offering apologies
YouTube Video: The Life and Times if Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi, crowned the Last Emperor of China in 1908. (Part 1 through 8)
for his indsicretions.
While turmoil rumbles in the highest political regions, the then existing Government of a renewed Republic of China declares war on Germany. A month later the "October Revolution" takes hold of Russia, taking it out of the war. Russian Communists soon sweep the Nation and, in the process of taking political control, have the Russian Imperial Family murdered to the last man and woman.
In 1918, in an attempt to defend the "Republic of Siberia" against the final onslaught of "Bolshevik" Armies, European Allies with extensive posessions in China launch an offensive from the Beijing Regions and Manchuria along the China North-East Railway and meet with their disastrous allies the white russians. The mission is a miserable failure with later relevance to Pu Yi's life.
On May the 4Th 1919, after a scandalous International Decision to hand the formerly German Concession in Shandong Province to the Japanese instead of returning them to the "Republic of China" regardless of it having agreed to becoming a British Ally against Germany, sparks outrage throughout China. In the educational Capital of Beijing middle-school and university students set a historic precedent by marching in protest through the City, eventually petitioning the Government of the Republic at the Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tian'An Men), the exterme south Gate of the "Forbidden City".
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In 1927 Chiang Kai Chek establishes a Government led by the Kuomintang National Party with its seat in the "Southern Capital" of Nanjing. Not Long after the civil war of Kuomintang versus the Chinese Communist Party is in full swing.
In September 1931 Japanese Forces make their final assault on the Manchuria, after the so-called "Mukden Incident" or the "Manchurian Incident".
On November the 10Th of 1931, Pu Yi, as the former Manchu Emperor is transported to Shenyang (Mukden) in Manchuria, where, in the former Capital of his ancestor Nuerhachi, he is to serve a leading role in the Government of "Puppet State" to be established under the auspices of the Japanese Empire.
In January 1932 The Japanese Bombard Chapei. On February the 23rd Pu Yi is elevated to the position of Head of State of Manchukuo, involving all of the Manchurian Provinces.
In May of 1932 a Commission of the "League of Nations" arrives in Manchukuo to investigate the issue of the newly arisen state and its claims to state-hood.
On March 1 of 1934 Pu Yi is crowned as the "Emperor of Manchukuo".
A display of some of the learning tolls and writings of the young Pu Yi which also includes a photo of Pu Yi and Johnston (Left) and Pu Yi in his wedding jaquet with top hat, reveiling him as the Dandy that he would later play while hiding out in Tianjin.
In April 1935 Pu Yi arrives in Japan for an official State visit on which he will meet the young Emperor Hirohito himself. A few months later, in October 1935 the first units of the Communist Armies led by Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and others arrived in Yenan in Shaanxi Province, ending what has become known in history as "The Long March".
On July 7 of 1937 the "Marco Polo Bridge Incident" sparks of a full Japanese Invasion of north-eastern China below the line of the "Great Wall of China". Although its army vows to defend it at all costs, not long after the city of Beijing falls into the hands of the Japanese Invaders after a betrayal and the fleeing of the Beijing Garrison in the night.
In 1937 Pu Yi, now Emperor of Manchukou celebrates his second wedding, to a third wife named Tan Yuling. Before she was married Miss Tan Yuling was a 17 year old middle-school student in Beijing.
In 1939 World War 2 breaks out in Europe.
In September 1940 Japan becomes an "Axis Ally" as it signs of a mutual defense treaty with Germany.
On December 7th of 1941 the Japanese Fleet attacks the United States' main naval base in the Pacific Ocean, located at pearl harbor, Honolulu in the Hawaiian Islands. Although seemingly a success, the survival of U.S. Navies backbone of aircraft carriers would come back to haunt the Japanse later on.
On December 25Th of 1941 Japanese Forces take over the British "Crown Colony" of Hong Kong.
On February the 15Th of 1942, Singapore, the British posession and trading harbor once founded by the Fleets of Admiral Zheng He of the Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D. - 1644 A.D.), falls to an overland invasion by Japanese Armies. In the aftermath of the momentous occassion, Pu Yi declares the full support of the State of Manchukuo for Japanese actions in the war against the western allies and China.
In the Palace Museum's collection of historic photographs there is one of Pu Yi's wife, the Empress Wan Rong dressed in a Cheongsam (a Traditional Chinese gown of ethnic Korean origin) astride a bicyle. The Museum still has a ladies bicyle left from Pu Yi's later days in the Palace, a bicycle which can be seen on display at this Hall. It may have been used by the Empress Wan Rong, but due to the large number of bicycles delivered to the Palace in those day one cannot be sure.
In early 1924, with Johnston as his main advisor, and supported by the new director of the Imperial Household Department , the Emperor issued an Imperial Edict taking the control of the Yiheyuan Summer Palace away from the corrupt eunuchs of the Imperial Household Department and making Johnston the caretaker and overseeer of that Palace, as well as the nearby Jade Spring Hill (Yuquan Shan) containing the clearest water spring in the cities area, as well as its adjoining Park.
One day after the issuing of this edict Pu Yi announced that he and the Empress Wan Rong had decided that they would like to visit the Summer Palace (Yiheyuan), which was considered the virtual "personal property" of the Emperor, yet which he had never seen or set foot within. It would become the memorable occasion of his second time to leave the "Forbidden City", his Palace annex Prison. As visitors may note when exploring the Black Dragon Temple and its Island in the Kunming Lake of the Summer Palace (Yiheyuan), various memorable visits were taken during the Royal visit(s) to the Palace.
As a reflection in small of the industrial revolution that was suddenly overtaking China, the relics left by the Last Emperor include mechanical toys such as this fire-engine and steam locomotive. The young Emperor rapidly modernized and among things took to photographing his world, now the Palace Museum.
On may the 25th of 1980, some years after the death of Mao and his wretched "Cultural Revolution", the Chinese People's Consultative Conference, held a grand memorial for the late Emperor Pu Yi, to honor the "considerable contribution he made to the country and the Chinese people during the second half of his life". Among the total of some 300 people present was Deng Yingchao, the widow of late Premier Zhou Enlai.
After a the memorial ceremony and a decision of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, the ashes of Pu Yi were allowed to be permanently interned at the National Revolutionary Cemetary, the most honorable part of the 8 Treasures Mountain (Babao Shan). The urn was placed in the first Hall for Housing Urns among those of other deceased top state leaders, celebreties and honored revolutionary martyrs, implying the highest honors for the dead Emperor.
The final resting place of the late Emperor Xuan Tong was selected on January the 15th of 1995 by his last wife, the widow Liu Shuxian who know him best in the last 6 years of his life.
On the 26Th of January of 1995, an auspiciously fair winter day, the ashes of Pu Yi were transfered from Babaoshan in the western hills of Beijing, to an even more official site, outside of the Beijing. Today the ashes of Last Emperor Pu Yi can be found interned at the Hualong Royal Family Cemetary, which is part of the Western Qing Tomb Complex (Qing Xi Ling) in south-western Hebei Province. There, at a location some 300 meters away from- and in sight of the Chongling Mausoleum of his predecessor, the Guanxu Emperor (Reign (Officially) 1875 AD - 1908 A.D), he rests among his Manchu Ancestors.
The Spirit of the Last Manchu Emperor, Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi still wanders with those who have read his book and come to dwell around what was once regarded as his Palace and his City. Although the Manchu conquered China making it a mere Province of Manchuria, today Chinese History choses to emphasize the Chineseness of the Manchu Dynasty and the fact that its Last Emperor was treated humanely by the new regime which by then had also claimed Manchuria as part of the new China.
DEATH OF PU YI - THE LAST MANCHU EMPEROR:
China's "Last Emperor" the "ordinary citizen" Pu Yi dies on October 17Th of 1967 at the age of 61. The cause of death are complications arising from late stage renal cancer and in the last week; under-treatment by the Staff of the Hospital due to political fears common to the era of the "Cultural Revolution".
Supposedly, not long after the crowning of the boy Pu Yi, the work on his Imperial Tomb had already started and thus there should be a tomb already reserved to the Xuan Tong Emperor. According to various sources, the works on the Tomb Complex did begin in the year 1909, however all construction was halted after the take-over of Government by the Republican Revolutionaries in the Xinhai Revolution. At the time, only the foundation had been laid and some of the more basic constructions were finished.
According to the memoirs of Madam Liu Shuxian, by the end of her life, when facing the question of the Last Emperors' last resting place, she had been informed that the resting place that was selected at the beginning of Pu Yi's rule bore the name "Ten Thousand Years Holy Land", that it was a lush valley basin surrounding by mist on the undulating hills on all four sides. There was river running not too far from this last resting place, and supposedly, it was in sight of the Tomb of the Guangxu Emperor".
When the death occurred however, there was no tomb and not even plans for a funeral or cremation.
At any rate, at the time of the death of Pu Yi in the midst of the so-called "Cultural Revolution" it would simply have been impossible to have him, an ex-Emperor and War Criminal, a "longstanding enemy of the people" to have a burial with any kind of regards. Although, the Premier Zhou Enlai (according to Liu Shuxian and her writer Wang Qingxiang) did privately express the wish to build an honorable tomb for the "Last Emperor", naturally, the Government policy would not allow it, and even if it wanted to build a tomb or organize a state funeral, it could not be seen as that supportive of a full class enemy, pardoned for his crimes or not. The people, naturally, would certainly not have anything to do with it, if only for the possibility of becoming a victim of "guilt by association" and then being a branded a "class enemy" an outcast, social vermin, themselves.
As a result, as the only Emperor in the history of the Qing Dynasty to experience this, Pu Yi's body was cremated. For this reason, sometimes the late Emperor's soul has been called "The Fire Dragon".
In late 1967, through the personal mediation and permission of the Premier Zhou Enlai, the ashes of Pu Yi were finally allowed to be sent to rest at either the highly regarded "Eight Treasures Mountain Cemetery" (Babaoshan), or if the widow so chose, at any other cemetery in Beijing.
Some time shortly after his death, the ashes of Pu Yi were interned at the Eight Treasures Mountain Cemetery (Babaoshan) on a temporary basis. After 15 years, the permit to intern the ashes would expire and they would have to be removed from the cemetery.
2) Pu Yi's life in Tianjin, Manchukou & the Japanese Period
3) Capture of the Emperor by Russian Forces
4) Return to China and Beijing
6) 1962 - 67 Life at Dongguanying Hutong
5) Death and Burial(s) of Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi, the Last Manchu Emperor
*) Pu Yi - Online Sources
RETURN TO CHINA AS PU YI:
On October 1st of 1949 Mao Zedong declares the establishment of the "Peoples Republic of China" at the Gate of Heavenly Peace, the ultimate southern gate of the former Imperial Palace, firmly laying his claim to a new Mandate of Heaven. The Communist take-over in China provides the Soviet Union with reasons to repatriate convicted Chinese War Criminals including the Last Emperor Pu Yi, who is imprisonned in the Siberian city of Khabarovsk (eventhough strictly speaking Pu Yi is a Manchu, not a Chinese subject).
It is the same city where communist rebels such as Kim Il-Song of Korea have been trained for their various revolutionary take overs of previously traditionalist Asian societies.
On July 31 of 1950 Pu Yi is extradited from the Soviet Union to the Peoples Republic of China, falling into the hands of its dreaded "Communist Party". Instead of being executed, as he had more or less expected, he is send to be re-educated through labor at the Fushun Special Prison for War Criminals. He spends nearly 10 years in the Fushun Prison, doing his time with former Kuomintang Generals and other high ranking officials, as well as his younger brother Pu Yieh.
Special Pardon from the Chinese Communist Party:
In 1959 Pu Yi is regarded as converted to Communism and he receives a special pardon from Secretary Liu Shaoqi of the Communist Party. On December 4th of 1959 Pu Yi arrives back in Beijing.
His first residence is with his sister, after which several different homes are assigned to him a rapid succession.
Beijing Botanical Gardens:
On December 16 of 1960, Pu Yi reports for duty at the Beijing Botanical Gardens for the first time. It has been only two months and two days since Pu Yi received his official pardon as a War Criminal from Premier Zhou Enlai himself and already the newly freed citizen has been assigned a task. From then on Pu Yi labors each day among the pleasant scenery of the foothills of Beijing's Western Hills assigned as a servant and gardener in the garden of the Horticultural Institute today still famous and well visited under the name Beijing Botanical Gardens (in the Haidian District).
The complex includes the Wofo Si - well known among tourists as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Apparently it is deemed the proper surroundings to keep an eye on the old Emperor while preparing him for a working class life among the multitudes often deemed the masses by the new Leader (some say Emperor) "Chairman" Mao Zedong.
Pu Yi worked under oversight of Tian Yumin and Yu Dejun, the team leaders of the workers at the garden and is assigned living quarters at the Botanical Gardens, taking care of his issue of residence as well as keeping the newly released War Criminal off the streets and away from the general public, anyone of whom might recognize him at any time.
His first quarters at the Botanical Gardens was an 18 square meter room which he shared with the accountant of the Gardens. According to descriptions it was neat rooom of which Pu Yi had said that it provided him with everything needed such as stationary. Texts recalling Pu Yi's activities at the garden strongly suggest that the stationary was needed for taking notes on gardening, portraying an eager ex-Emperor learning about plants and botany, but as it appears now the paper may also have been used for taking down notes on his past life in the Palace of Beijing and in other locations. That is, not too much later Pu Yi would find himself assigned at an honorary job, involved in recording and detailing the history of his rule and of the many Imperial Sites to be found in- and around the old Imperial Capital of Beijing.
From the sparse information that has been allowed to come out about this period, one may judge that Pu Yi, who languished in prison for several years being uncertain of his ultimate fate at all times, was delighted to arrive in the gardens. Although it was anew situation to adept to, it was under very controlled circumstances and may have felt alike his earlier life in the Forbidden City, except for the fact that now the Emperor could actually make his hands dirty in the garden, and it was he who received oversight from others. Nevertheless, as one may judge from a visit to the popular Botanical Gardens today, established on the grounds of a former Imperial Garden, it was one of the better places of Beijing to live and dwell.
After three months at the Gardens Pu Yi was assigned to the observation and propagation greenhouses in the garden and learnt how to prune, transplant and graft. Further stories tell of the former Emperor growing cabbages and rasing pigs, after the disastrous impact of Mao Zedong's "Great Leap Forward" had led to the worst famine in human history. Apparently the Emperor raised good fat pigs. How he did that in a period of extreme scarcity is not related.
In the year 1961, amidst the stresses of the Cold War that had gripped the world, Japanese Film makers were among the first to produce a documentary film under the title "Emperor and Ordinary Citizen". Around the same time, a cinematic team from Eastern Germany (G.D.R.) made a critical film about the life of the Last Qing Emperor and War Criminal now pardonned by the State.
Only 20 days later, on the 25Th of November of that same year, Reginald Fleming Johnston helps the
1962 to 67 LIFE AT DONGGUANYING HUTONG IN BEIJING:
On May 1st of 1962 Pu Yi is married to Li Shuxian, a Chinese Lady born in Shanghai but native to Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province. Starting in June of that year, the newly wedded couple move to Dongguanying Hutong in the Xinjiekou Area in the north western corner of the old city to start their life together, the last episode and final chapter of the multi-facetted Life of the last Manchu Emperor of Manchuria, Mongolia and China. Although it is but a modest home, the old former Emperor who once lived as a virtual prisoner in his own Palace is delighted to live among the ordinary people of Beijing. His new house is but a small dwelling, but one situated in a historic hutong lane which among things is also home to a Islamic Mosque, which however is mostly closed during the life of Pu Yi in this lane.
In January of 1964, the leading and Internationally read magazine "China Reconstructs" alerts the world public to what is coming by publishing the article "From Emperor to Citizen", a lengthy preview on the book by the same title about to be launched by the Beijing Foreign Language Press, China's number one state endorsed publishing house. Among avid readers and even the general public the article was welcomed with enthusiasm and interest.
The year 1964 saw the first publication of the famous book, ghost written for and by Pu Yi and entitled "From Emperor to Citizen". A message officially (produced and) explicitly recognized by the State, the book was an instant hit within the Peoples Republic of China, and being translated into various Foreign Languages, went on sale in Japan, the United States of America, Great Britain and Hong Kong, Indonesia, France and various other countries. Since its first publication in 1964, the book has seen a multitude of reprints in various languages, the amazing story contained within reaching an awed world audience. It was a propaganda victory for a satisfied Chinese Communist Party, but - in a way - also for Pu Yi, who afterall had adapted himself and survived everything, ending up as the star in his own book.
Together with the tales of the last days of Dynasty as told by his once Tutor, Sir Reginald Fleming Johnston, the book from Emperor to Citizen - which is still being reprinted and read around the world, composes one of the base stones of modern day knowledge on the Forbidden City (now Palace Museum) and the events that occurred during the dying the days of the once mighty Manchurian Dynasty of the Qing.
Although many people had requested that Pu Yi write a second part to his epic book, nothing was ever published by the Last Emperor on his life in the years of living at Dongguanying Hutong. Officially, as can be read in the book by Wang Qingxiang "China's Last Emperor as an ordinary Citizen" Pu Yi had said that the last parts of his life should not be put into words but into deeds, presumably referring to his active attitude towards posing as the most ordinary and supportive citizen the Communist Party may wish for (including voting in a sham democratic election for a local party cadreship). What the real thoughts of the Emperor to this point were, we can only wish for.
When on November the 14Th of 1908, the imprisoned Guangxu Emperor dies, Pu Yi becomes involved in events of National Importance. One day after the Death of the Guangxu Emperor, the Empress-Dowager Cixi falls ill after having decreed that Pu Yi, the Son of Prince Chun has been adopted by the Guangxu
VISIT TO THE YIHEYUAN SUMMER PALACE :
and really unfortunate "Japanese Adventure". As from that moment onwards, Pu Yi, who had previously fallen under the relatively benevolent influence of the British Johnston, was pried away from the side of his tutor to successively fall squarely under the influence of his Japanese helpers who would soon turn on him to become his mentors and overlords. With the bond between Johnston and Pu Yi severed, the still young and inexperienced former Emperor found himself mostly left to his own devices and without senior guidance.
(Although the two would see eachother one more time, Johnston would be promoted and eventually return to Britain, never to see his old friend and pupil again. A great and crucial lapse in British Diplomacy perhaps or even likely).
A Scene later described in the book from "Emperor to Citizen" but otherwise witnessed by few, some two months later, the deposed Emperor and refugee Pu Yi is whisked away by Japanese Secret Agents, leading him from the Japanese Legation and compounds to the nearby Qianmen Station, which although now long inactive and home to a Railway Museum and more, was the location of the nearest Train Station in Beijing. Today the Station building still stands near adjacent the Qianmen (Peace Gate) - Front Gate Tower as a reminder of the day when the Emperor of China was stolen to be abused by the hostile Empire of Japan in their future plots against China as well as Manchuria. Not aware of this, and possibly too naieve and experienced to recognise the danger, the former Emperor willingly boarded his train bound for the nearest safe Haven, the Internationally administered Tianjin Foreign Quarter. There, a new life with new extravagancies, experiences, mistreatment and betrayal would begin. Having escaped the Chinese Revolutionaries, the Emperor apparently held a miniature Manchu Court and tried out the lifestyle of a western Playboy.
A now famous historic Photo in which the entire Manchu Family poses together some time after arrival in Tianjin. It would be the last family photo ever taken as events would scatter the family throughout the Provinces.
to live anew and in a modern way without the binding rules and morality of Confucianism and the Manchu imposed Law. The new rule in China, it was the word, was likely to be designed along the lines of political idea's now fast imported from the West. Meanwhile, left utterly without significant reform after the 100 days of fresh political wind and the sudden incarceration of the Guanxu Emperor and with the Empress Dowager dead as well, there top of the Dynasty fragmented.
Left under a four year old Emperor, Pu Yi - son of the Prince Regent Chun, the Qing Dragon was practically headless and as we know today, only short years remained until the end of the Qing Dynasty.