Hall of Benevolence and Longevity

  Benevolence and Longevity HallEmpress Dowager Cixi and Emperor Guangxu took charge of state affairs and received officials and foreign envoys here. The building was first built in 1750. It was then called the Hall of Industrious Government. In 1860, it was burned down. The present building was rebuilt in 1890.

  In the middle of the hall stands a throne carved with a nine-dragon design. The nine dragons symbolized the supreme power of the Emperor.
  By the side of the throne are two big fans made of peacock feathers, put up for dignity purpose. In the Song Dynasty, two fans were held by eunuchs, while in the Qing Dynasty they were put up by the side of the throne.

  There are two column shaped incense burners, one on each side for burning incense on formal occasions.
  This is an incense burner assuming the form of a mythological animal which was supposed to have the power to prevent fire.
  The inscription on the tablet says that he who shows benevolence in running the government can live a 1ong life.
  The flower basket is made of precious stones in various colours. The base is made of pear wood.

  On the small table there is a Shang Dynasty bronze mirror over 3,000 years old. On the wall is a scroll with big Chinese character meaning “Longevity”. The one hundred bats in the background symbolize happiness and longevity. This big character was written by the Empress Dowager.

  This is a lacquer screen inlaid with ivory and green jade; made in Emperor Qianlong’s time.
  The frame of the big mirror is made of mahogany. It took 3,600 man-days or one person ten years to do the job.
  A pair of wooden lions is shaped from the roots of birch tree.
  The elephant is a symbol of universal peace.
  The small chambers on either side were places where the Emperor rested and received officials on formal occasions.

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