Hunting for Deer in the Forbidden City

The character for deer in Chinese, , has the same sound as the pictogram for "status", and by association has come to be synonymous with good fortune. For this reason, the animal is traditionally looked at as a symbol of good fortune and happiness. The exhibition on display in the Palace of Eternal Longevity offers jade pieces, wooden statues, quotidian objects and paintings of the totem animal, venerated in the Confucian tradition as well as those of Buddhism and Taoism. It is also possible to admire the bows and rifles used in the hunts organised by the Imperial entourage every year at the end of the eighth lunar month. Starting with Emperor Kangxi of the Qing dynasty, in fact, the deer hunt became an Imperial ritual for demonstrating filial piety towards ancestors. At the same time, it is also a way of practicing horse-back riding and archery. Hunting deer in the woods of Mulan, North of Beijing, assured the sovereign perfect adherence to the will of the heavens.

Arianna Papalia - © 2018 for Bulgari Hotel Beijing