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Auspicious Prosperity, Reverent Service: The Life of Empress Dowager Chongqing

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Location:Palace of Longevity and Health (Shoukang gong)

Dates: 2015-10-10 through *

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Empress Dowager Chongqing (1693-1777), née Niuhuru, was married to Yinzhen, the Prince of Yong of the First Rank, at the age of thirteen (in sui according to traditional Chinese age reckoning). Upon marriage, she was given the rather low-ranked title of imperial clanswoman (gege). On 25 the twenty-fifth of September of 1711 – the thirteenth day of the eighth lunar month in the fiftieth year of the Kangxi reign (1662-1722) – she gave birth to Hongli, who would subsequently become the Qianlong Emperor. After her husband the Prince of Yong ascended the throne as the Yongzheng Emperor, she was elevated in status and granted the title of Consort Xi (lit. "Bright Consort"). After her son Hongli came to the throne as the Qianlong Emperor, Lady Niuhuru was promoted to the status of empress dowager with the title Chongqing.

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  She lived in the Palace of Longevity and Health (Shoukang gong) for forty-two years. This palatial residence was specially built for her by the Qianlong Emperor and held unrivalled prestige in the imperial court. The Qianlong Emperor bestowed his mother with honorary titles upon nine different occasions. He also included her in four of his inspection tours to the South. Beyond the Forbidden City's walls, Empress Dowager Chongqing's birthday was lavishly celebrated throughout the country. Within the palace walls, she enjoyed the happiness of five generations of her family living together. Having died at the advanced age of eighty-six (in sui), she was one of China's longest-lived queen mothers.
  Respectfully displayed in the empress dowager's former residence, the Palace of Compassion and Tranquility (Cining gong), is an inscription of four characters – "Qinglong zunyang" (lit. "Auspicious Prosperity, Reverent Service") – by the Qianlong Emperor. The inscription appears on a horizontal panel in the palatial residence and captures the veneration received by Empress Dowager Chongqing and the sumptuous lifestyle she enjoyed.
  This exhibition features over sixty articles related to Empress Dowager Chongqing from the permanent collection of the Palace Museum. They present a true picture of this noblewoman's life and reveal the social background and styles of the prosperous Qianlong reign.

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