Travelogues

Forbidden City 2/5 The Inner Court 内廷

Commonly called the “Back Palace” 后宫, this is a cluster of palaces that was out of bounds to all men except the emperor. This is where the woman folks of the Imperial family stay. The only other men you will find here were eunuchs.

Out from the Hall of the Preserving Harmony, you will notice a huge block of marble carved with cloud and dragon designs. Go straight, and you will see another gate, called the Gate of Heavenly Purity (乾清门). This is the main gateway to the inner living court. The inner court has three main structures at the northern rear of the Forbidden City.

L2M-CN-1904-PALACE-QIANQING-5内廷的中心是乾清宫、交泰殿、坤宁宫,统称后三宫,是皇帝和皇后居住的正宫。其后为御花园。后三宫两侧排列着东、西六宫,是后妃们居住休息的地方。东六宫东侧是天穹宝殿等佛堂建筑,西六宫西侧是中正殿等佛堂建筑。外朝、内廷之外还有外东路、外西路两部分建筑。

Palace of Heavenly Purity 乾清宫

The first structure inside the inner court is the Palace of Heavenly Purity (乾清宫), the emperors’ sleeping quarters.

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乾清宫建筑规模为内廷之首,作为明代皇帝的寝宫,自永乐皇帝朱棣至崇祯皇帝朱由检,共有14位皇帝曾在此居住。由于宫殿高大,空间过敞,皇帝在此居住时曾分隔成数室。据记载,明代乾清宫有暖阁9间,分上下两层,共置床27张,后妃们得以进御。由于室多床多,皇帝每晚就寝之处很少有人知道,以防不测。皇帝虽然居住在迷楼式的宫殿内,且防范森严,但仍不能高枕无忧。

据记载,嘉靖年间发生“壬寅宫变”后,世宗移居西苑,不敢回乾清宫居住。万历帝的郑贵妃为争皇太后闹出的“红丸案”、泰昌妃李选侍争做皇后而移居仁寿殿的“移宫案”,都发生在乾清宫。明代乾清宫也曾作为皇帝守丧之处。清代康熙以前,这里沿袭明制,自雍正皇帝移住养心殿以后,这里即作为皇帝召见廷臣、批阅奏章、处理日常政务、接见外藩属国陪臣和岁时受贺、举行宴筵的重要场所。一些日常办事机构,包括皇子读书的上书房,也都迁入乾清宫周围的庑房,乾清宫的使用功能大大加强。


雍正元年曾下诏,密建皇储的建储匣存放乾清宫“正大光明”匾后。康熙、乾隆两朝这里也曾举行过千叟宴

Grand Council 军机处

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Grand Council 军机处

In 1729, the Yongzheng Emperor launched a military offensive against the Dzungar Khanate. Concerns were raised that the meeting location of the Grand Secretariat (outside the Gate of Supreme Harmony) did not ensure security for military secrets. The Junjichu was then established in the Inner Court of the Forbidden City. Trustworthy members of Cabinet staff were then seconded to work in the new Office. After defeating the Dzungars, the Yongzheng Emperor found that the streamlined operations of the Office of Military Secrets avoided problems with bureaucratic inefficiency. As a result, the Junjichu turned from a temporary institution into a “Grand Council” in 1732, quickly outstripping the powers of the Council of Advisor Princes, and the Southern Study, to become the chief policy-making body of the Qing Empire.

Palace of Union and Peace 交泰殿

The second structure, behind it is the Palace of Union and Peace (交泰殿), where the imperial seals were stored.

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Compare 2014 (above) and 2019 (below)

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内廷后三宫之一,位于乾清宫坤宁宫之间,约为明嘉靖年间建,顺治十二年(1655年)、康熙八年(1669年)重修,嘉庆二年(1797年)乾清宫失火,殃及此殿,是年重建。交泰殿平面为方形,深、广各3间,单檐四角攒尖顶,铜镀金宝顶,黄琉璃瓦,双昂五踩斗栱,梁枋饰龙凤和玺彩画。四面明间开门,三交六椀菱花,龙凤裙板隔扇门各4扇,南面次间为槛窗,其余三面次间均为墙。殿内顶部为盘龙衔珠藻井,地面铺墁金砖。明间设宝座,上悬康熙帝御书“无为”匾,宝座后有板屏一面,上书乾隆帝御制《交泰殿铭》。

东次间设铜壶滴漏,乾隆年后不再使用。西次间设大自鸣钟,宫内时间以此为准。交泰殿为皇后千秋节受庆贺礼的地方。清代,于此殿贮清二十五宝玺。每年正月,由钦天监选择吉日吉时,设案开封陈宝,皇帝来此拈香行礼。清世祖所立“内宫不许干预政事”的铁牌曾立于此殿。皇帝大婚时,皇后的册、宝安设殿内左右案上。每年春季祀先蚕,皇后先一日在此查阅采桑的用具。

Hall of Terrestrial Tranquility 坤宁宫

The third hall is the Hall of Terrestrial Tranquility (坤宁宫), the emperors’ wedding room.

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坤宁宫内廷后三宫之一,始建于明永乐十八年(1420年),正德九年(1514年)、万历二十四年(1596年)两次毁于火,万历三十三年(1605年)重建。清沿明制于顺治二年(1645年)重修,十二年(1655年)仿沈阳盛京清宁宫再次重修。嘉庆二年(1797年)乾清宫失火,延烧此殿前檐,三年(1798年)重修。坤宁宫座北面南,面阔连廊9间,进深3间,黄琉璃重檐庑殿顶

明代是皇后的寝宫。清顺治十二年改建后,为萨满教祭神的主要场所。改原明间开门为东次间开门,原槅扇门改为双扇板门,其余各间的棂花槅扇窗均改为直棂吊搭式窗。室内东侧两间隔出为暖阁,作为居住的寝室,门的西侧四间设南、北、西三面炕,作为祭神的场所。与门相对后檐设锅灶,作杀牲煮肉之用。由于是皇家所用,灶间设棂花扇门,浑金毗卢罩,装饰考究华丽。坤宁宫改建后,即成为清宫萨满祭祀的主要场所,其中宫的地位并未改变。康熙四年(1665年)玄烨大婚时,太皇太后指定大婚在坤宁宫行合卺礼。同治皇帝、光绪皇帝大婚,溥仪结婚也都是在坤宁宫举行。

Mental Cultivation Hall 养心殿

On the left side of the inner court, travelers will find the Mental Cultivation Hall (养心殿), the most important building except for the Hall of Supreme Harmony. From the time of the third emperor, Yongzheng, all the Qing emperors, 8 in total, resided in this hall. I could not visit it because it was closed for restoration. Here are some photos of an earlier visit (in 2014)

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养心殿,明代嘉靖年建,位于内廷乾清宫西侧。清初顺治皇帝病逝于此地。康熙年间,这里曾经作为宫中造办处的作坊,专门制作宫廷御用物品。自雍正皇帝居住养心殿后,造办处的各作坊遂逐渐迁出内廷,这里就一直作为清代皇帝的寝宫,至乾隆年加以改造、添建,成为一组集召见群臣、处理政务、皇帝读书、学习及居住为一体的多功能建筑群。一直到溥仪出宫,清代有八位皇帝先后居住在养心殿。

养心殿为工字形殿,前殿面阔三间,通面阔36m,进深3间,通进深12m。黄琉璃歇山式顶明间、西次间接卷棚抱厦。前檐檐柱位,每间各加方柱两根,外观似9间。皇帝的宝座设在明间正中,上悬雍正御笔“中正仁和”匾。明间东侧的“东暖阁”内设宝座,向西,这里曾经是慈禧、慈安两太后垂帘听政处。明间西侧的西暖阁则分隔为数室,有皇帝看阅奏折、与大臣秘谈的小室,曰“勤政亲贤”殿,有乾隆皇帝的读书处三希堂,还有小佛堂、梅坞,是专为皇帝供佛、休息的地方。养心殿的后殿是皇帝的寝宫,共有五间,东西稍间为寝室,各设有床,皇帝可随意居住。

Hall of Consolation 体顺堂

后殿两侧各有耳房五间,东五间为皇后随居之处,西五间为贵妃等人居住。同治年间两宫皇太后垂帘听政时,慈安住在东侧的“体顺堂”,慈禧住在西侧的“燕禧堂”,随时登临前堂,处理政务,确是十分方便。寝宫两侧各设有围房十余间,房间矮小,陈设简单,是供妃嫔等人随侍时临时居住的地方。

Besides the three main buildings there are the six eastern palaces and six western palaces, where the emperor used to handle everyday affairs, and which was the living quarters of the emperor, empresses and concubines. Converted into exhibition halls, they now display a spectacular set of imperial treasures. We will explore these in the next instalment of this series.

Date Visited : Apr 2019

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