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Thread: Empress dowager cixi

  1. #166
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    On the wedding day the emperor sent a luxuriously adorned palanquin to the queen's home. A Royal Representative went with the palanquin, carrying the queen's seal, which was made of gold. When the Royal Representative arrived at the queen's home, all the household came out to receive the queen's seal on their knees. At that time the queen was being attired. Four ladies-in-waiting waited on the queen. One combed the queen's hair into a wedding style. Another put wedding clothes on the queen. Still another changed the queen's shoes. The last lady adorned the queen's face with cosmetics. Then the queen came out of her confined room ensued by the four ladies and accepted the seal on her knees. Then everyone kowtowed to the queen as an action of congratulations. The queen rode in the palanquin and was carried into the Forbidden City. Thousands of people formed the procession, including guards, musicians, eunuchs carrying all kinds of things, and the ladies-in-waiting on horseback. The procession led by the Royal Representative lasted miles, with many people lined on both sides, watching. In the procession there were three hundred pairs of palace lanterns, which were lit when it grew dark. The collective shining of the lanterns almost paled the full moon.
    The emperor was waiting impatiently in the Forbidden City. He often asked for what time it was. The other three girls were carried into the Forbidden City with much less rituals before the queen's arrival. When the emperor was reported that his concubines were carried into the Forbidden City one after another, he just nodded the acknowledgment. At last the bells and drums over the front gate of the Forbidden City sounded, announcing the arrival of the queen. So the emperor left his bachelor's room for the wedding room in another building. When the queen arrived, the new royal couple went through a series of complicated ceremonies before they were finally escorted to the wedding room for the night.

  2. #167
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    The queen's palanquin stopped before that building. The queen was helped out of the palanquin, with an apple in each hand. Apple in old China meant safety because the two words have the same pronunciations. A lady-in-waiting came up and took the apples from the queen's hands. Another lady handed to the queen a gilded bottle sealed on the mouth with a red gauze. In the bottle there stored small pieces of gold and silver, rubies and other gems, grains of rice and wheat. It was called the Treasure Bottle. Then the queen should step over a saddle with the two apples under it. Just at that time, the emperor arrived. When the queen got at the other side of the saddle, she found herself standing face to face with the emperor. They kowtowed to each other on a red rug with the loud pleasant music accompanying the ceremony. Then they should kowtow to Heaven and Earth, to the God of Longevity, After that the queen must go to kowtow to the God of Kitchen. It meant that the queen was to manage the cooking of the palace, though the queen really never did the cooking herself. At that time the emperor retired to another room to have a rest. The queen went into the wedding room to re-attire herself. Her hairdo was altered into another style more casual and fit for lying on the pillow. Her clothes were more for the comfortable wear. Then the emperor came in and other people left so that the new couple could have a heart to heart talk.
    The emperor's concubines went to see the empress dowagers first and West Empress Dowager was specially kind to the Royal Concubine, whom she liked. When the queen went to see the empress dowagers next day, West Empress Dowager didn't even speak to her, just nodding to acknowledge her kowtow. Everyone in the Forbidden City knew that this was a bad omen. The royal wedding finished after three years of preparation and an expenditure of twenty million taels of silver.

  3. #168
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    The queen's palanquin stopped before that building. The queen was helped out of the palanquin, with an apple in each hand. Apple in old China meant safety because the two words have the same pronunciations. A lady-in-waiting came up and took the apples from the queen's hands. Another lady handed to the queen a gilded bottle sealed on the mouth with a red gauze. In the bottle there stored small pieces of gold and silver, rubies and other gems, grains of rice and wheat. It was called the Treasure Bottle. Then the queen should step over a saddle with the two apples under it. Just at that time, the emperor arrived. When the queen got at the other side of the saddle, she found herself standing face to face with the emperor. They kowtowed to each other on a red rug with the loud pleasant music accompanying the ceremony. Then they should kowtow to Heaven and Earth, to the God of Longevity, After that the queen must go to kowtow to the God of Kitchen. It meant that the queen was to manage the cooking of the palace, though the queen really never did the cooking herself. At that time the emperor retired to another room to have a rest. The queen went into the wedding room to re-attire herself. Her hairdo was altered into another style more casual and fit for lying on the pillow. Her clothes were more for the comfortable wear. Then the emperor came in and other people left so that the new couple could have a heart to heart talk.
    The emperor's concubines went to see the empress dowagers first and West Empress Dowager was specially kind to the Royal Concubine, whom she liked. When the queen went to see the empress dowagers next day, West Empress Dowager didn't even speak to her, just nodding to acknowledge her kowtow. Everyone in the Forbidden City knew that this was a bad omen. The royal wedding finished after three years of preparation and an expenditure of twenty million taels of silver.

  4. #169
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    After marriage, the emperor took over the power, namely, to read reports, make decisions and appoint officials and officers. West Empress Dowager was unwilling to entirely lose her power. She told the emperor that if he had anything important to decide on, he should consult her first, because, as she said, he was not experienced enough yet. On February 23, 1873, the emperor took over the power.
    West Empress Dowager was unhappy because she was now retired and had nothing better to do. Besides, she was unhappy with the queen because the emperor chose her against her will. Then she was fuming when she learned that the emperor slept with the queen almost every night and seldom went to the chamber of the royal concubine she liked.
    Whenever the emperor came to pay homage to her, she would say that the emperor should spend more time with the royal concubine. She would reproach the queen for her indecent behavior. She even reprimanded the queen to her face that she should not be jealous of others. The queen thereby advised the emperor to sleep with the royal concubine more often. But the emperor was furious with his mother, West Empress Dowager, for her interference with his marital life. So he stopped altogether going to see the royal concubine. But afraid of being scolded by West Empress Dowager, he no longer went to the queen's chamber, either. He simply moved to sleep in his study on the pretense that he wanted more time for reading.

  5. #170
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    After marriage, the emperor took over the power, namely, to read reports, make decisions and appoint officials and officers. West Empress Dowager was unwilling to entirely lose her power. She told the emperor that if he had anything important to decide on, he should consult her first, because, as she said, he was not experienced enough yet. On February 23, 1873, the emperor took over the power.
    West Empress Dowager was unhappy because she was now retired and had nothing better to do. Besides, she was unhappy with the queen because the emperor chose her against her will. Then she was fuming when she learned that the emperor slept with the queen almost every night and seldom went to the chamber of the royal concubine she liked.
    Whenever the emperor came to pay homage to her, she would say that the emperor should spend more time with the royal concubine. She would reproach the queen for her indecent behavior. She even reprimanded the queen to her face that she should not be jealous of others. The queen thereby advised the emperor to sleep with the royal concubine more often. But the emperor was furious with his mother, West Empress Dowager, for her interference with his marital life. So he stopped altogether going to see the royal concubine. But afraid of being scolded by West Empress Dowager, he no longer went to the queen's chamber, either. He simply moved to sleep in his study on the pretense that he wanted more time for reading.

  6. #171
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    Once when he complained to East Empress Dowager that he was often found at fault by his own mother, East Empress Dowager said that his mother had too much time on hand that she didn't know how to spend it and that if he could find something for her to do, she would be happy and blame him less.
    Then some officials in charge of royal construction work, suggested to the emperor to rebuild the Round-Bright Garden, Garden Of All Gardens as called by the foreigners. The emperor thought it a good idea. When West Empress Dowager learned it she was really delighted. But Yixin and all other courtiers opposed the notion, because the royal treasury had no money. The work would cost at least one billion tael's worth of silver. At that time the first and foremost need of the dynasty was to build a navy so that they could resist any further invasion from the foreign countries. But the emperor wanted to please his mother and West Empress Dowager wanted to enjoy herself in return for her to give up the power. So the officials in charge of the royal construction work went to the site to see where the repair was needed and to estimate the cost. They reported to the emperor, who gave the report to the secretaries for discussion. The secretaries replied that the government had no money for it, but they had no objection if the emperor could think of a way to raise money. The officials of the construction suggested to the emperor that the money could be raised through donations. So the emperor ordered the courtiers to donate money for it.

  7. #172
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    Once when he complained to East Empress Dowager that he was often found at fault by his own mother, East Empress Dowager said that his mother had too much time on hand that she didn't know how to spend it and that if he could find something for her to do, she would be happy and blame him less.
    Then some officials in charge of royal construction work, suggested to the emperor to rebuild the Round-Bright Garden, Garden Of All Gardens as called by the foreigners. The emperor thought it a good idea. When West Empress Dowager learned it she was really delighted. But Yixin and all other courtiers opposed the notion, because the royal treasury had no money. The work would cost at least one billion tael's worth of silver. At that time the first and foremost need of the dynasty was to build a navy so that they could resist any further invasion from the foreign countries. But the emperor wanted to please his mother and West Empress Dowager wanted to enjoy herself in return for her to give up the power. So the officials in charge of the royal construction work went to the site to see where the repair was needed and to estimate the cost. They reported to the emperor, who gave the report to the secretaries for discussion. The secretaries replied that the government had no money for it, but they had no objection if the emperor could think of a way to raise money. The officials of the construction suggested to the emperor that the money could be raised through donations. So the emperor ordered the courtiers to donate money for it.

  8. #173
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    As long as the emperor didn't demand money from the treasury Yixin said nothing more and donated twenty thousand taels of silver. But many courtiers refused to donate. The emperor couldn't punish all the courtiers for that. In the end he only gathered some ten thousand taels, a long way to the budget.
    Critique Official Sun filed in a report to oppose it. The emperor got in a rage and wanted to punish him so that other courtiers would be afraid to oppose his plan. He wished to know more about the critique official so that he could find some fault with him. He asked the secretaries about him. The secretaries could guess the intention of the emperor. So Yixin replied that when the late emperor had escaped to the Summer Palace in Rehe, this critique official had tried a suicide by jumping into a well, but had been saved. It implied that he was a faithful courtier to the late emperor. How could the present emperor punish someone so loyal to the late emperor, his father? Then another critique official You handed in a report on the same subject. The emperor was angry, but was delighted too, because he could have someone to punish at last. This time, there was nothing special about the critique official. So the emperor issued an order to dismiss Critique Official You from his position. When the order came into Yixin's hand, he said to the emperor that it was not suitable to remove a critique official for such a thing at the difficult time. When the emperor persisted, Yixin had to report to West Empress Dowager, who sent for the emperor and told him that he should not remove critique officials for things trivial.
    Then he ordered all the governors to donate, but all of them complained that they didn't have any extra money to donate since so many things were waiting to be done after the mutinies had been subdued. Even Governor Wu, who was then the governor of Sichuan Province, made an excuse that when he could collect enough money he would have it sent to the capital. But the construction officials didn't believe it, because Sichuan Province was known as a rich province. Now the emperor had to let his plan abort.
    At that time, a merchant by the name of Li said to the official in charge of the construction that he wanted to donate a lot of wood for the rebuilding of the Round-Bright Garden. So the official reported it to the emperor, who ordered the official to arrange for all the wood transported to the capital and promised that when the garden was finished he would give the merchant a high official position. Even the empress dowagers learned it. And the emperor often sneaked out of the Forbidden City on the pretext that he would go to inspect the ruins of the garden to see how to better rebuild it.

  9. #174
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    As long as the emperor didn't demand money from the treasury Yixin said nothing more and donated twenty thousand taels of silver. But many courtiers refused to donate. The emperor couldn't punish all the courtiers for that. In the end he only gathered some ten thousand taels, a long way to the budget.
    Critique Official Sun filed in a report to oppose it. The emperor got in a rage and wanted to punish him so that other courtiers would be afraid to oppose his plan. He wished to know more about the critique official so that he could find some fault with him. He asked the secretaries about him. The secretaries could guess the intention of the emperor. So Yixin replied that when the late emperor had escaped to the Summer Palace in Rehe, this critique official had tried a suicide by jumping into a well, but had been saved. It implied that he was a faithful courtier to the late emperor. How could the present emperor punish someone so loyal to the late emperor, his father? Then another critique official You handed in a report on the same subject. The emperor was angry, but was delighted too, because he could have someone to punish at last. This time, there was nothing special about the critique official. So the emperor issued an order to dismiss Critique Official You from his position. When the order came into Yixin's hand, he said to the emperor that it was not suitable to remove a critique official for such a thing at the difficult time. When the emperor persisted, Yixin had to report to West Empress Dowager, who sent for the emperor and told him that he should not remove critique officials for things trivial.
    Then he ordered all the governors to donate, but all of them complained that they didn't have any extra money to donate since so many things were waiting to be done after the mutinies had been subdued. Even Governor Wu, who was then the governor of Sichuan Province, made an excuse that when he could collect enough money he would have it sent to the capital. But the construction officials didn't believe it, because Sichuan Province was known as a rich province. Now the emperor had to let his plan abort.
    At that time, a merchant by the name of Li said to the official in charge of the construction that he wanted to donate a lot of wood for the rebuilding of the Round-Bright Garden. So the official reported it to the emperor, who ordered the official to arrange for all the wood transported to the capital and promised that when the garden was finished he would give the merchant a high official position. Even the empress dowagers learned it. And the emperor often sneaked out of the Forbidden City on the pretext that he would go to inspect the ruins of the garden to see how to better rebuild it.

  10. #175
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    But Merchant Li said to the official in charge that the wood was in the forest on the remote mountains in Guizhou Province, one of the remotest provinces in the southwestern part of China. The big trees must be chopped down, carried to the nearest stream, let them float down on the current to the closest town and shipped from there to the capital. It needed a lot of labor and a long time to get them to the capital. The official was stunned, but he couldn't report this awkward situation to the emperor. Then Merchant Li said that he could help to buy wood planks from some foreign merchants. The official knew that if he couldn't get anything for the emperor, he would at best lose the position, at worst be put into prison. Besides, if he let Merchant Li buy wood planks, the government would pay for them. Money would not come out of his own pocket, and furthermore, he could get some commission from the transaction. So he agreed to the proposal of the merchant and gave him five hundred taels of silver as traveling expense.
    They didn't know that Merchant Li was a great imposter. Although he knew a lot of foreigners, he often cheated them out of their money. Then he just disappeared. When these foreigners left China, he appeared to do the same to the other foreigners. Once a foreigner had wanted to purchase a piece of land to build something, he had said to him that he had owned a stretch of land somewhere. Then he had led the foreigner to a marshy land. Though the price had been cheap, when the foreigner had paid Li for the land, he had found that this piece of land belonging to the local government. The foreigner had searched for Merchant Li, but he had just vanished from the face of the earth. The foreigner had died with the wish that his ghost could have found Merchant Li.

  11. #176
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    But Merchant Li said to the official in charge that the wood was in the forest on the remote mountains in Guizhou Province, one of the remotest provinces in the southwestern part of China. The big trees must be chopped down, carried to the nearest stream, let them float down on the current to the closest town and shipped from there to the capital. It needed a lot of labor and a long time to get them to the capital. The official was stunned, but he couldn't report this awkward situation to the emperor. Then Merchant Li said that he could help to buy wood planks from some foreign merchants. The official knew that if he couldn't get anything for the emperor, he would at best lose the position, at worst be put into prison. Besides, if he let Merchant Li buy wood planks, the government would pay for them. Money would not come out of his own pocket, and furthermore, he could get some commission from the transaction. So he agreed to the proposal of the merchant and gave him five hundred taels of silver as traveling expense.
    They didn't know that Merchant Li was a great imposter. Although he knew a lot of foreigners, he often cheated them out of their money. Then he just disappeared. When these foreigners left China, he appeared to do the same to the other foreigners. Once a foreigner had wanted to purchase a piece of land to build something, he had said to him that he had owned a stretch of land somewhere. Then he had led the foreigner to a marshy land. Though the price had been cheap, when the foreigner had paid Li for the land, he had found that this piece of land belonging to the local government. The foreigner had searched for Merchant Li, but he had just vanished from the face of the earth. The foreigner had died with the wish that his ghost could have found Merchant Li.

  12. #177
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    Merchant Li went to Hongkong, lodged in a suite of a big hotel, and put up a notice “Wood needed for the royal garden.” When many wood salesmen knew it, they swarmed to him. A French merchant offered the best price. So he ordered thirty-five square feet wood for ten thousand taels of silver. Then he reported the price as thirty thousand taels. He reckoned that as he had promised to donate ten thousand taels, which he would deduct, he would still get twenty thousand taels. The price of the wood only cost ten thousand taels and he could get ten thousand extra taels for himself. The contract said that when the wood arrived in Tianjin City, the government would send some official to receive the shipment and pay the price. But when the French merchant reached the harbor, no one was there to receive him.
    When Merchant Li reported the price to the official in charge, he reported to the leading official. And all the officials for the construction thought that the price was way too high and they decided that they didn't want the merchandise. So no one was sent to receive the shipment. The French merchant complained to the envoy of his country and the envoy contacted the Chinese government through the Foreign Affairs Yamen. The cheating deal came out in the broad daylight.
    The official in charge had to report to the emperor, who was incensed and told the empress dowagers. As a result, Merchant Li was put to death and the official in charge was removed from office. Since the merchant who had signed the contract died, the deal was off naturally. Then the construction plan aborted.

  13. #178
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    Merchant Li went to Hongkong, lodged in a suite of a big hotel, and put up a notice “Wood needed for the royal garden.” When many wood salesmen knew it, they swarmed to him. A French merchant offered the best price. So he ordered thirty-five square feet wood for ten thousand taels of silver. Then he reported the price as thirty thousand taels. He reckoned that as he had promised to donate ten thousand taels, which he would deduct, he would still get twenty thousand taels. The price of the wood only cost ten thousand taels and he could get ten thousand extra taels for himself. The contract said that when the wood arrived in Tianjin City, the government would send some official to receive the shipment and pay the price. But when the French merchant reached the harbor, no one was there to receive him.
    When Merchant Li reported the price to the official in charge, he reported to the leading official. And all the officials for the construction thought that the price was way too high and they decided that they didn't want the merchandise. So no one was sent to receive the shipment. The French merchant complained to the envoy of his country and the envoy contacted the Chinese government through the Foreign Affairs Yamen. The cheating deal came out in the broad daylight.
    The official in charge had to report to the emperor, who was incensed and told the empress dowagers. As a result, Merchant Li was put to death and the official in charge was removed from office. Since the merchant who had signed the contract died, the deal was off naturally. Then the construction plan aborted.

  14. #179
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    When the emperor came into power he remembered his study-mate and playmate, Zaizhen, the son of Yixin and made him his Courtier Before Throne so that the emperor could see him more often. When they had nothing else better to do, Zaizhen would tell the emperor some funny things. Or something he thought it was funny.
    One day, he told the emperor, “The wife of the French envoy came to see my mother.” The emperor interrupted and asked, “Does a foreigner really have red eyebrows and green eyes?” (Some eunuch had mentioned foreigners to the emperor like that.) Ziazheng replied, “They have green eyes, yes. But they don't have red eyebrows.”
    “What's their rule of behavior?” asked the emperor again.
    “Their rule is ladies first. When a newcomer arrives, the men must stand up, but the women still sit there. And men always kiss women's hands.” Answered Zaizhen seriously.
    “I was told that the women and the men mix together. Is that so?”
    “Sure. They shake each other's hands. They embrace each other and even kiss each other on the mouth.”
    “Have you been kissed by a foreign woman?” The emperor was curious. He was still a teenager.
    “No. I don't have such pleasure. They don't kiss us because they know we don't like to be kissed.”
    “Have you touched a foreign woman's hands?”
    “Yes. On the day when the wife of the French envoy came to see my mother, I went into our guest room too. I was about to withdraw from their presence, the French woman asked me to stay. By the way, she can speak some Chinese, though with an accent. She shook hands with me, but I had gooseflesh all over.”
    “Why? Are there thorns on her hand?” The emperor asked innocently.
    “No. Thorns only make me painful. But, no. The hair on her hand and arm is very long.”
    “That will look like a monkey's.” The emperor joked.
    “Yes. But she is more beautiful than a monkey.” They both laughed.

  15. #180
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    When the emperor came into power he remembered his study-mate and playmate, Zaizhen, the son of Yixin and made him his Courtier Before Throne so that the emperor could see him more often. When they had nothing else better to do, Zaizhen would tell the emperor some funny things. Or something he thought it was funny.
    One day, he told the emperor, “The wife of the French envoy came to see my mother.” The emperor interrupted and asked, “Does a foreigner really have red eyebrows and green eyes?” (Some eunuch had mentioned foreigners to the emperor like that.) Ziazheng replied, “They have green eyes, yes. But they don't have red eyebrows.”
    “What's their rule of behavior?” asked the emperor again.
    “Their rule is ladies first. When a newcomer arrives, the men must stand up, but the women still sit there. And men always kiss women's hands.” Answered Zaizhen seriously.
    “I was told that the women and the men mix together. Is that so?”
    “Sure. They shake each other's hands. They embrace each other and even kiss each other on the mouth.”
    “Have you been kissed by a foreign woman?” The emperor was curious. He was still a teenager.
    “No. I don't have such pleasure. They don't kiss us because they know we don't like to be kissed.”
    “Have you touched a foreign woman's hands?”
    “Yes. On the day when the wife of the French envoy came to see my mother, I went into our guest room too. I was about to withdraw from their presence, the French woman asked me to stay. By the way, she can speak some Chinese, though with an accent. She shook hands with me, but I had gooseflesh all over.”
    “Why? Are there thorns on her hand?” The emperor asked innocently.
    “No. Thorns only make me painful. But, no. The hair on her hand and arm is very long.”
    “That will look like a monkey's.” The emperor joked.
    “Yes. But she is more beautiful than a monkey.” They both laughed.

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