The Forbidden City

Front Cover
British Museum Press, 2005 - History - 78 pages
0 Reviews
The Forbidden City in the middle of Beijing (Peking) has been the hub of imperial China since the 15th century. A city within a city, its high red walls enclosed the centre of government, the imperial palace, huge lakes dotted with islands and pleasure-boats, workshops producing clothing, furniture and fittings and luxury items for the court and a zoo. For hundreds of years, eunuchs served their imperial masters, taking control of the flow of administrative documents and all the daily needs of the emperors and palace women. This lively introduction vividly evokes the colourful characters and strictly prescribed rituals that went on behind the city's closed walls. In the 16th and 17th centuries, a tiny number of foreign envoys, from the Persian Gulf and from Holland, described the discomforts of waiting for hours in the freezing cold to catch a glimpse of the Emperor in his yellow silk sedan chair, and it was not until the very end of the 19th century that ordinary westerners managed to penetrate the Forbidden City. This book allows you to do just that, under the guidance of one of its most learned and enthusiastic admirers.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Officials and eunuchs
Banquets and bedchambers

4 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2005)

Frances Wood is head of the Chinese Collections at the British Library.

Bibliographic information