Banquets, Splendour and Secret Messages for the Chinese New Year

Banquets, Splendour and Secret Messages for the Chinese New Year
#Exhibitions

Thanks to a highly-accurate job of archiving which aided in recovering the more obscure memories of the past, the historians of the Palace Museum have created an exhibition that tells of the celebrations at the Imperial Court during the Chinese New Year. The six sections of the exhibition retrace the rituals and traditions which occurred behind the impenetrable walls of the Palace, revealing symbolic meanings and documents that have been sealed for centuries. The exhibition opens with the original calligraphy tablets from the XVII Century showing the Chinese character for “Prosperity”. The second section looks at the solemn cult of “Filial Piety” which, during the Chun Jie or Spring Festival, honoured the virtues of ancestors. This first-ever look at the intimate Imperial celebrations is enriched by the presence of the so-called “Tablets of the Spirits” of the Qing Dynasty. The visit continues with a section dedicated to culinary traditions, presenting the sumptuous banquets that the Imperial family would typically enjoy during the holidays. Documentation contributed immensely to this section as well, revealing recipes, ingredients and the traditions behind the lavish preparations at the Imperial Palace in ages past. Especially surprising is the content of the fourth section which rediscovers the ancient tradition of the “Opening Brush Ceremony”, showing the public the secret auspicious messages written by Emperors at dawn of the New Year, after having remained sealed for centuries. The exhibition continues with a section dedicated to entertainment and winter games which amused the Imperial Court during the Spring festivities, a unique opportunity to discover some of the more genuine and fun aspects of life at the palace. The exhibition closes with a remarkable collection of lanterns, accurately reproduced following iconographic and historical documents from the Qing Dynasty, a gathering of colours, materials, forms and lights which create a stunning atmosphere outside of time.
Giorgia Cestaro - © 2019 ARTE.it for Bulgari Hotel Beijing