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The NPM Special Exhibition The Chengde Summer Resort: A Microcosm of the Qing Empire Unveils the Most of the Qing History

Release date:2022-09-23
News Room

What would an Emperor do during the Summer holidays? In ancient times without air conditioning, the Emperor would do the same as the people in modern days, which was to travel to cooling summer resorts when the heat strikes; the difference was that the Emperor would also relocate the entire studio and official duties to the destination. The special exhibition The Chengde Summer Resort: A Microcosm of the Qing Empire launches on the 24th of September. The curatorial intention focuses on analyzing the Jehol Palace—the most prominent Imperial garden from the Qing dynasty and the best preserved among existing detached Imperial palaces, by unveiling the interior and exterior constructions and details to present the panorama of diverse ethnicities and religions in the Qing Empire.

The Jehol Summer Resort locates at the frontier between the Qing Empire and north Asia, where the borders of Manchu, Mongolia, and Han collide. Between May to September each year, Emperors would travel there to retreat from Summer heat, perform Autumn hunts, and receive Mongolian and Tibetan living buddhas and noblemen as well as foreign envoys. In addition, critical decisions on state affairs were executed at the Chengde Summer Resort, making it an undeniable centre of political power in the Qing Empire, second only to the Forbidden City. This exhibition has six sections: ‘The Resort as Microcosm of the Qing Empire’, ‘The Ruler’s Multiple Identities’, ‘Religious Tolerance’, ‘Local Administration in the Multi-ethnic Empire’, ‘Linguistic Diversity’, and ‘Politics and Ritual’. The exquisite selection of paintings, calligraphies, antiquities, and related archival documents all together reveal the significant insight of the ‘Bishu Shanzhuang (summer resort)’ in the Qing dynasty.

The NPM stated that the exhibition not only showcases an ancient summer palace but further acknowledges the Qing Empire built by the Manchu people through this architecture. Furthermore, this exhibition manifests the journey of Manchu’s thriving from outside the Great Wall, followed by replacing the Ming dynasty after their empowerment, later conquering the Muslim region in the 18th century and further developing into a magnificent Empire ruling various ethnicities with different governing methods. For example, the outer Eight Temples circling the Chengde Summer Resort were constructed during the process of the Qing court securing the North and West areas; the religious building symbolized the alliance of Manchu and Mongolia. The set of “Gilt tableware presented by the Torghut Ubashi Khan to Emperor Qianlong, with brocade wrapper, leather case, and wooden box” is in an 18th-century Rococo style, which has embedded the heroic tale of the Mongolian Torghut clan came to quest for affiliation from the Russian Plain.

The aerial perspective of the “Illustration of the Summer Resort in Jehol” provides a glance at the architectural layout of the summer palace from the peak of the Qing dynasty; the housings sit in the centre, surrounded by lakes referring to the Jiangnan district, the grassland representing the Northwest, and the Mountain ranges from the Northeast. The formation of the Chengde Summer Resort corresponds to the microcosm of the Qing Empire. The “Illustration of the Garden of Ten Thousand Trees (wanshuyuan)” illustrates the place in the plain area on the resort’s north, where the Emperor held banquets to host Mongolian nobles and foreign envoys. The garden was a significant location with diplomatic purpose, where the Qing Empire formed connections with various ethnic tribes.

Have you assumed the Emperor would only call himself ‘zhen (I)’? When the Emperors managed state affairs regarding diverse ethnic groups, within or outside the Empire, at the Chengde Summer Resort, he would employ his multi-representations according to the audience. The imperial pronouns would shift from ‘huangdi (emperor)’ to ‘tianzi (abkai jui)’, and occasionally as ‘jun’ and ‘han’. The identity of being the master of the Eight Banners, hence the Manchurian ministers would address the Emperor as ‘e’zhen’ in their summited reports. Furthermore, The front gate of the Chengde Summer Resort, Lizhengmen (the Gate of Beauty and Integrity), is adorned with calligraphy in scripts of Manchu, Mongol, Han, Tibet, and Uyghur; the linguistic diversity demonstrated the essential quality of Qing’s governance.

"One record of the mountain resort tells half of the history of the Qing dynasty.” The Chengde Summer Resort had witnessed countless political and military episodes of the dynasty and stood as a monument to reflect the convergence of nationalities, languages, and religions. The NPM sincerely welcome your visit with the company of the Autumn breeze, seeking shelter from the heat and indulging yourselves in the Qing’s history enlightened by the summer resort.


Special exhibition information
The Chengde Summer Resort: A Microcosm of the Qing Empire
Location:National Palace Museum Northern Branch, Main Exhibition Hall, Galleries 103 104

For press-related issues please contact:

Wang Zi-wen 02-2881-2021#68991 Email:
Yang Wan-yu 02-2881-2021#68900 Email:
Last Updated:2022-09-26