Monday, September 10, 2012

The Concubine Tombs

A few years back, we visited the tombs of a few eunuchs of the Qing Dynasty court. This time around, while at the Eastern Qing Tombs, we took a pass through an expansive, little-visited area that is the final resting place of dozens of concubines of the Emperor Qianlong.

The tombs of the concubines were arranged, front to back, in terms of their importance to the emperor. There were also significant differences in sizes between the tombs of the different concubines. Up at the front, the emperor's favorite concubine was afforded an imperial-style presentation not all that different from the ones we have been documenting in the case of Cixi and Qianlong himself. Other concubines were given much simpler and smaller markers, many of which are in significant decay and disrepair.

A truly unusual, kind of sad place, which we had all to ourselves, making it all the more creepy, except that as we were walking around, I was getting constant test messages from a friend. A most welcome distraction and connection back to the present!



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