Learn how 17th century Emperors celebrated their birthday
As part of the 20th anniversary of the Handover of Hong Kong back to China, the Hong Kong Jockey Club is sponsoring an exhibition called 'Longevity and Virtues: Birthday Celebrations of the Qing Emperors and Empress Dowagers'.
The last of the imperial dynasties, the Qing ruled China from 1644 to 1912. Achievements of the various Emperors from this lineage include compiling a dictionary with over 47,000 Chinese characters that form the basis of most modern Chinese dictionaries today, producing a multitude of poets and artists and the birth of Peking opera. They also perfected the art of blue and white porcelain.
Plaque Embroidered with 'Boundless Longevity' Kangxi reign (1679)
The exhibits include items from the grand birthday celebrations of Emperor Kangxi, Emperor Qianlong, Empress Dowager Chongqing (mother of Qianlong), Emperor Jiaqing and Empress Dowager Cixi, normally housed in the collection of The Palace Museum in Beijing.
Bright Yellow Brocade Satin Robe with Bats, Clouds and Longevity Roundels Qianlong reign (1736-1795)
All of the exhibits are extremely valuable and you can see them for just HK$20. A similar vase from the same period went under the hammer at Christie's for US$8 million. This particular vase has nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine shou (longevity) characters and one wan (ten thousand) character.
Large Blue-and-White Vase with Ten Thousand Longevity Characters Kangxi reign (1662-1722)
Other exhibits show the lavish decorations of the city, birthday gifts given as tributes and Peking Opera performances.
Peking Opera Performance
There are free guided tours from 5 July onwards. The English language public tours commence 2pm every Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. Each tour lasts about 1 hour and admits 30 persons on a first come, first served basis.
The Hong Kong Museum of History is located next to the Hong Kong Science Museum and the nearest MTR is Hong Hum. However if coming from the island side, the easiest way to get there is to go to Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station exit D1 and then walk 10 minutes. For a route map click here.
This is a rare chance to see the opulence and splendour of the Qing dynasty.