Magazine article Sea Classics

Chinese Treasures

Magazine article Sea Classics

Chinese Treasures

Article excerpt

The Peabody Essex Museum of Salem, Massachusetts, has among its current exhibits the works of art which originated in the workshops of Peking. The objects of every description and exquisite beauty were no doubt a part of every cargo of the ships returning to that busy port during the late18th century and into the 19th century.

Titled "The Emperor's Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City," it has been hailed as a major international collaboration and yields never before seen Forbidden City treasures.

According to information furnished by the Museum, we learned that when the last emporer of China, Puyi, left the Forbidden City in 1924, the doors closed on a secluded compound of pavilions and gardens deep within the palace. Filled with valuable objects personally commissrioned by the 18th-century Qianlong (pronounced chee'en lohng) emperor for his personal enjoyment, the complex of lavish buildings and exquisite landscaping lay dormant for decades. Ninety objects of ceremony and leisure - murals, paintings, furniture, architectural and garden componets, jades, and cloisonne - are now on view through 9 January 2011.

Reigning from 1736 to 1796, the Qianlong emperor led China to sweeping administrative military and cultural achievements while far surpassing European monarchs of his day in wealth and power.

The artworks crafted for the Qianlong emperor echoed and supported his dedication to Buddhist spiritual pursuits, Confucian morals, love of literature, and reverence for nature. Nancy Berliner, exhibition curator and curator of the Museum's Chinese art, invites visitors to walk through the PEM's galleries the way the Qianlong emperor would have strolled through his rooms and gardens and view the objects of beauty and exceptional craftsmanship. …

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