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The Forbidden City

The Vancouver Art Gallery is hosting a new exhibit this fall that will feature five centuries of artifacts from Imperial China. The exhibit is titled “The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’ Emperors” and will run until January 11th at the main museum centre between Robson and Georgia Street.

At the height of it’s power, the Beijing palace was a place of mystery, where only a select group of staff, visitors and family members could ogle the treasures held within its walls. Now, a century after the Empire fell, the veil is being removed and the priceless contents are being displayed for the public.

The exhibition is organized by Beijing’s Palace Museum and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. The main curator is Dr. Chen Shen, the ROM’s Chair of East Asian Archaeology. Local historian and UBC professor, Timothy Brook, is coordinating the exhibit for Vancouver’s exhibit.

The collection is divided into nine unique sections:

Entrance

  • Focuses on Aisin-Gioro lineage line, the greatest triple generation of emperors in Chinese history

Reigning

  • Icons of power are displayed in this room with an emphasis on the emperor’s throne.

Warring

  • Armour and weaponry, the tools for consolidating power.

Symbols

  • This section looks at the colours and dress of the emperors.

Lineage

  • A look at the concubines who provided heirs to the throne.

Texting

  • Less emoticons and more calligraphy, this section deals with the private and public communications voiced by the rulers.

Consuming

  • The far-from-ordinary daily objects used in the palace.

Collecting

  • The emperor’s private collection of artifacts from China and around the world.

Farewell My Emperor

  • The final room features a discussion on the last emperor of the Forbidden City.

The exhibit will also host two historical lectures on October 28th at 7 p.m. and November 4th at 7 p.m. Both of these talks are on a Tuesday evening, where entrance is by donation.

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