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Past Exhibitions



The Hong Kong Jockey Club Series: Longevity and Virtues: Birthday Celebrations of the Qing Emperors and Empress Dowagers

2/7/2017 – 9/10/2017

Special Exhibition Gallery and 1/F Main Lobby, Hong Kong Museum of History

Solely sponsored by
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust

Jointly presented by
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department
The Palace Museum

Co-organised by

The Hong Kong Museum of History
The Palace Museum

The Qing court attached great importance to the emperor's birthday celebrations since it was believed that the emperor's longevity was a testimony of his great virtue and effective rule over the nation. The Emperor's Birthday, New Year Day and Winter Solstice were the three most important festivals in the Qing palace. The grand celebration of Emperor Kangxi's sixtieth birthday set the precedent for the birthdays of the later emperors to be magnificently celebrated. Since then, the birthdays of Emperor Qianlong's mother Empress Dowager Chongqing, Emperor Qianlong, Emperor Jiaqing and Empress Dowager Cixi were also grandly celebrated.

To celebrate the birthdays of the Qing emperors and empress dowagers, all princes and their children, peers, ministers and foreign envoys would present birthday gifts or tributes. The imperial route stretching tens of miles between the imperial garden in the western suburbs and the Forbidden City would be resplendently decorated with lanterns and other festive decors, and punctuated with ornamental awnings. Many temporary operatic stages would be erected in the capital to perform a repertoire of congratulatory operas. Male and female elders throughout the nation would be awarded with bestowals. All these were launched to allow the whole nation to share the festivities of the occasion. 

This exhibition is a highlight of the programmes launched to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. 210 sets of precious exhibits associated with the grand birthday celebrations of Emperor Kangxi, Emperor Qianlong, Empress Dowager Chongqing (mother of Qianlong), Emperor Jiaqing and Empress Dowager Cixi, from the collection of The Palace Museum in Beijing will be displayed. The exhibits will showcase the ritual system related to the birthday celebrations of the Qing emperors and empress dowagers, and the rich culture of ancient Chinese birthday celebration will also be revealed.


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