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Royal Ontario Museum introduces more than 50 new objects to Forbidden City exhibition
Emperor Daoguang Enjoying an Autumn Day in the Garden Anonymous court painter Ink and colour on silk Qing dynasty, 19th century The Palace Museum, Gu6564 © The Palace Museum.

TORONTO.- The Royal Ontario Museum unveiled more than 50 new objects in its spectacular Forbidden City exhibition. Due to the exhibition’s significant number of light-sensitive and fragile textiles, paintings, and paper objects, approximately 50 objects have been replaced by other stunning treasures from the Forbidden City. The extensive rotation includes several rare textiles and paintings and creates a new opportunity for visitors to experience the exhibition, its stories, and exquisite objects.

The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors, presented by the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation with Manulife as Lead Sponsor, features 250 treasures that were part of Chinese imperial life for five centuries in a city that was strictly off-limits to all but the emperor, his family and his personal servants. Presented in partnership with Beijing’s Palace Museum, the exhibition features more than 80 objects that have never before travelled outside of China and the Forbidden City.

The ROM’s new rotation includes several women’s robes in sumptuous embroidered silk; the Emperor’s ceremonial summer robe worn to mark the sacrifice on the summer solstice; and an imperial dog’s outfit, created from silk and gold thread and embroidered with begonias, lotus, and chrysanthemums — made for a small dog named Yellow. Also on display are several pieces of artwork including an ink and colour on silk that depicts Emperor Daoguang, his wife, children, and dog enjoying precious family time and a series of pictures commissioned by Emperor Yongzheng while still a young prince. Depicting him hard at work — ploughing, tilling, weeding, the series established him as a benevolent future ruler.

Remaining on display is one of the exhibition’s highlights, the charming “chicken” cup. Commissioned by Emperor Chenghua for his mother to use as a wine cup, it was produced of the finest Ming porcelain. Exceedingly rare, only two such cups exist today in the vaults of the Palace Museum and less than a dozen original Ming dynasty chicken cups survive in museums and private collections worldwide. Recently, one of these fetched a record $36 million (USD) at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong, making it one of the most expensive Chinese cultural objects ever auctioned.

The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors is on display in the ROM’s Garfield Weston Exhibition Hall until September 1, 2014. Appealing to families, the exhibition features a Family Trail that uncovers the stories and symbolism of the Forbidden City, a treasure hunt for the exhibition’s most interesting artifacts and touchable reproductions of some of the exhibition’s most treasured objects.

China’s imperial palace, known as the Forbidden City, was the centre of government and home to China’s last 24 emperors of the Ming (1368 – 1644) and Qing (1644 – 1911) dynasties. Made up of about 980 buildings and 8700 rooms in over 90 architectural complexes, the Forbidden City remains to this day the largest palace complex in history.

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