Six Western PalacesThe Six Western Palaces (Xiliu Gong) and the Six Eastern Palaces (Dongliu Gong) lie symmetrically on each side of the three main halls in the Inner Court. These twelve palaces were the residence of the emperor's many wives, as polygamy was legitimate in China's feudalistic times. Each palace is a separated courtyard which has a front hall, a rear hall and assistant halls.
The Six Western Palaces, as the name suggests, are situated in the west of the Inner Court. With the Hall of Mental Cultivation to its south, it contains six palaces: Palace of Eternal Longevity (Yongshou Gong), Palace of the Queen Consort (Yikun Gong), Palace for Gathering Elegance (Chuxiu Gong), Taiji Dian (Hall of Supreme Pole), Palace of Eternal Spring (Changchun Gong) and Palace of Universal Happiness (Xianfu Gong).
Among the palaces, the Palace of Eternal Spring is famous for its fresco named A Dream of Red Mansions. A Dream of Red Mansions, a most noted Chinese novel, became very popular in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The Empress Dowager Cixi liked reading it very much, which led to this fantastic fresco being painted. The Palace for Gathering Elegance, once Cixi's dwelling, is very elegant. Wanrong, the last empress of the Qing Dynasty, lived in this place too. A dresser, an ivory boat and other rare crafts are displayed.
Six Eastern PalacesAs the counterpart of the Six Western Palaces, the Six Eastern Palaces was also the residence of the emperor's wives. The six courtyards are neatly arranged on the east side of the three main halls in the Inner Court. It consists of Jingren Gong (Palace of Great Benevolence), Chengqian Gong (Palace of Heavenly Favor), Zhongcui Gong (Palace of Purity), Yanxi Gong (Palace of Lasting Happiness), Yonghe Gong (Palace of Eternal Harmony), Jingyang Gong (Palace of Great Brilliance). They all now serve as exhibition halls to exhibit collections of a certain kind.
Jingren Gong (Palace of Great Benevolence) was the birthplace of Emperor Kangxi, the second emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Empepror Qianlong's mother and Concubine Zhen of Emperor Guangxu once lived at the palace. Now, donated objects are on display in it.
Yanxi Gong (Palace of Lasting Happiness) was rebuilt in 1931 as a storeroom. It is the only modern building made of armored concrete in the Forbidden City. Devotees of calligraphy will appreciate the works on display here. Also on exhibition here are numerous ceramic articles.
Chengqian Gong (Palace of Heavenly Favor) was at a time the harem of Dong Xiao'e, a beloved concubine of Emperor Shunzhi (the first emperor of the Qing Dynasty). This palace is now an exhibit hall for a large number of bronze wares.
The display in the Yonghe Gong (Hall of Eternal Harmony) is about the life of the imperial concubines in the Qing Dynasty, while at the Jingyang Gong (Palace of Great Brilliance) and Zhongcui Gong (Palace of Purity) enamel objects and delicate jade wares are the specialties there respectively.
Go to the Next Attractions: Hall of Mental Cultivation & Hall for Ancestral Worship