Hall of Jade Ripples

 Jade Ripples HallHall of Jade Ripples lies at the northern corner of Kunming Lake in the Summer Palace. It is noted as having served as the prison of Emperor Guangxu in the late Qing Dynasty.

  A courtyard beside the lake contains the main Hall of Jade Ripples which faces the south, and two side buildings. A back door leads to the Yiyunguan (Chamber of Mortal Beings), the former residence of Guangxu’s empress. The annex building on the right (west) is known as Xiagendian (Hall of Coloured Clouds) and the one on the left (east)is called Ouxiangxie (Hall of Lotus Fragrance). Each also has a backdoor.

  In the latter half of the 18th century, Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795) used to spend his leisure hours in the courtyard with his ministers and friends. It became Emperor Guangxu’s prison in 1898 when Empress Dowager Cixi learned that her nephew, the young emperor, was supporting a move for reform of China’s feudal system. She cursed him furiously and had him confined to either Yingtai (Water Terrace Pavilion) in Zhongnanhai (Middle South Sea), the present center of the Chinese Government near the Forbidden City, or in the Hall of Jade Ripples.

  Emperor Guangxu was closely watched, at this hall all the backdoors were sealed and a brick wall was put up behind the wooden partition on each side of the two annexes of the courtyard.

  Also at the Hall of Jade Ripples, a pair of decorative rocks were erected in the front of the courtyard by Empress Dowager Cixi’s order. The rocks resemble a mother and a baby and were meant to symbolize the natural affection between a child and a mother to criticize the Emperor for his lack of gratitude.

  Relics on display in the hall includes a throne, a table, an incense burner and a screen, all made during the reign of Emperor Qianlong.An inscribed board is in the handwriting of Empress Dowager Cixi. It reads “The magnificence of the palaces makes the star of moral integrity shine forever.” One character has a stroke missing. Some people say Empress Dowager Cixi made the mistake but no one dared to tell her at that time. Actually, it was a common error.

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