How China managed to save its national treasures
When imperial rule collapsed in China at the beginning of the 20th century, the emperor’s Forbidden City home was turned over to the public and transformed into the Palace Museum. Fierce fighting that rocked the country for years after the leadership change posed a grave threat to the palace treasures – considered one of the world’s greatest collections of art and artifacts. To protect them, the Palace Museum director decided to evacuate a large number of items and set them on a 14-year, 46,600-mile journey. Watch the video above.
The army of eunuchs behind China’s Forbidden City
The presence of eunuchs in the Chinese court was part of a long-standing tradition. These emasculated men frequently served as menial workers, spies and harem watchdogs in ancient Chinese imperial society. Over time, eunuchs serving in government roles began to exert enough influence with emperors that they could control state affairs or even orchestrate the fall of a dynasty. Check out our video, above, to find out more.
Inside the Forbidden City: The Emperor’s harem
All women living in imperial China’s Forbidden City were carefully sequestered in quarters deep inside the palace. Most were employed as maids and servants, but there was also a select group of concubines tasked with bearing children for the emperor – as many as he could father. The selection process was extensive… and the life of a concubine was often a harsh, lonely one. Check out our video, above, to find out more.
The Forbidden City gets lit
For the first time in 94 years, Beijing's Forbidden City opened to the public at night with a dazzling light show. The evening marked the Lantern Festival, the traditional end of the Lunar New Year celebration period. The ancient imperial palace, which is mostly comprised of buildings made of wood, has not held lantern shows in the past for fear of fire. 6,000 tickets were sold for the two-night event, in which new technology combined with old to create moving images over ancient buildings.
How Chinese imperial treasures survived 46,000 miles and 14 years of war
Some of China’s greatest treasures are its imperial artifacts, collected by Chinese emperors over millennia of history. For years these ancient treasures lay in Beijing’s Forbidden City. But in the early 20th century, invasion and civil war alike threatened the existence of this priceless collection. Thousands of priceless pieces took to the road for 14 years, traversing some 46,600 miles to evade capture and plunder.  This is the harrowing journey that preserved one of humanity’s most important artistic legacies – in not one, but two resting places separated by a thousand miles and a political divide. When it opened in October 1925 The Palace Museum in Beijing attracted the attention of sch
How it was built: The Forbidden City
Beijing's former imperial palace, the Forbidden City, was the royal residence and seat of the Chinese government for five centuries. The massive complex contains more than 8,700 rooms, inside buildings constructed without a single nail or drop of glue. We look at the durable construction techniques that have allowed the Forbidden City to withstand plundering, fire and the test of time. This video was made in collaboration with the South China Morning Post’s infographics team as part of their exploration of the Forbidden City’s Palace Museum.