Hall of Preserving Harmony

Hall of Preserving HarmonyArchitecturally, this hall has no supporting pillars in its front part, something typical of Ming architecture. In the Qing Dynasty, banquets were given on New Year’s Eve in honour of Mongolian princes and high-ranking officials. The imperial examinations were held here. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, there were three levels of exams: the county and prefectural level, the provincial level and the national level. The national level exam was presided over by the emperor. The civil service exams in China started in the Han Dynasty. It served the purpose of recruiting Confucian scholars to be ministers and high officials. During the centuries of disunity that followed, the Han Dynasty system of selecting officials by exam went out, and men were appointed, not on merit but by favour and nepotism. The examination system came back and was established again in the Tang Dynasty. It continued until 1905. The Qing Dynasty took over the ancient system of imperial examination. Once every three years, three hundred scholars from all over the country came to Beijing and took the exams for three days and three nights in this hall. The exams were so rigid that competitors sometimes went insane or died of exhaustion. Those who failed sometimes took poison and threw themselves off the high bal-conies. Those who passed would get honorable titles and become high officials.

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