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Gate of Tranquil Longevity (Ningshou men)

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The Gate of Tranquil Longevity (Ningshou men) is located to the north of the Gate of Imperial Supremacy (Huangji men) and is the second entrance for the area of the Palace of Tranquil Longevity (Ningshou gong). This area was occupied originally by a hall built during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). In the twenty-eighth year (1689) of his reign, the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1662–1722) constructed the Palace of Tranquil Longevity. The Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736–1795) renovated the area from the thirty-seventh (1772) to forty-first year (1776) of his reign. The gate was modified according to the design of the Gate of Heavenly Purity (Qianqing men), but its title remained the same.

The Gate of Tranquil Longevity is constructed in a palatial-building style with yellow glazed tiles atop a hip and gable roof. Measuring five bays (jian) wide and three bays deep, the gate has three open bays and two side chambers enclosed with four hexagonal latticework panels upon low walls with central square windows. The gables on either side of the roof join with the splayed screen-walls on either side of the gate. The rear eaves are delineated with pillars. Enclosed by yellow interior walls with green borders, the two side chambers may be entered from the central bays through large openings between columns. The structure is built upon a white marble platform with a central stairway-sculpture (danbi) among three stairways. The central stairway is flanked by statues of lions sculpted from gilded bronze. Inside the gate, a pathway upon a raised platform with balustrades leads to the Hall of Imperial Supremacy (Huangji dian).

The colorful painted embellishments of the gate have undergone large-scale transformations. According to the conventional imperial system of design and material evidence found on the historic structure, the earliest painted ornamentations were in the gold-dragon seal style (jinlong hexi, the highest-ranking design). During the Guangxu reign (1875–1908), these embellishments were modified to the dynamic Suzhou style of painted beam embellishments for the sixtieth birthday of Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908). In 1979, conservationists at the Palace Museum restored them to the style of the Qianlong reign.

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