Documents in National Palace Museum, Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Welcome to the National Palace Museum's collection of documents from the Qing dynasty! Here you can explore some of the most important documents from this period, including Archives in Old Manchu, Edicts for the Personal Rule of the T'ung-chih Emperor, Archives of the Diary-keeper, Tripitaka in Tibetan and Manchu, Palace Memorials, Manuscripts and Packets from the Historiography Institute, Map of Taiwan and Illustration of Victory: Archives of the Grand Council. These documents provide us with a unique insight into Chinese culture during this time period and are invaluable artifacts that tell us about how people interacted with each other during this era. Come take a look at these incredible documents today!
1. Archives in Old Manchu
In 1599, the Manchu leader Nurhaci, in order to solve the need to transmit written messages and make government records, ordered the scholars Erdeni and others to create a written language for the Manchu, based on the Mongolian alphabetic system and combined with Jurchen phonetics. This early form of Manchu, derived from Mongolian and without punctuation, was called Old Manchu. In 1632, the scholar Dahai was ordered to create punctuation in order to improve the form and phonetics of Manchu, which became known as New Manchu.
2. Archives of the Diary-keeper
The "Ch'i-chu chu" (Diary-keeper) was the title of an official in imperial China whose duty was to record the daily actions and sayings of the emperor into what was known as the "Archives of the Diary-keeper." As the name suggests, this type of historical information was similar to a diary in form. This system has ancient origins in China, extending as far as the Zhou dynasty ca. 1100-256 BC and being referred to in the Han 207 BC-AD 220 and Tang 618-907 dynasties
3. Tripitaka in Tibetan / Tripitaka in Manchu
Buddhism is a major world religion that has been around for more than 2000 years. The translation of Buddhist scriptures, known as sutras, into Tibetan and Manchu not only preserved the language and history of these people in China but also assists in the study of Eastern culture. Sutras are a crucial source of historical material. A compilation of Buddhist texts is called a tripitaka. The Kanjur Tripitaka, written in gold ink, has leaves written on both sides in standard script. The sutra leaves, arranged in order, are decorated with the Eight Auspicious Symbols painted in gold ink. The boards include an inner and an outer pair. The outer pair is made of red lacquered wood and on front is an inscription in Sanskrit that reads, "Om-mani-pad-me-hum," an invocation against evil. The inner pair is made of dark bluish wood, and the reverse of the top piece is carved with gold characters in both Sanskrit and Tibetan for the Buddha, the Law, and the Order. The top piece is wrapped in layers of white, blue, green, red, and yellow silk, each embroidered with Sanskrit and Tibetan letters along with images of the Eight Auspicious Symbols. The lower piece is painted with five Buddhist images in color. The leaves between the two boards are then bound with silk thongs along with a white silk ceremonial hada cloth and finally wrapped in yellow sutra silk to form a set.
4. Palace Memorials
The drafting and submitting of documents to the court in the early Qing dynasty followed the system used in the previous Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Public matters were dealt with in subject memorials, while private ones in confidential memorials. Starting from the middle of the Kangxi Emperor's reign (r. 1662-1722), however, the memorial system was revamped, marking the beginning of the Qing system.
5. Manuscripts and Packets from the Historiography Institute
In 1690, under the Kangxi Emperor, the Historiography Institute was established at court as part of the Hanlin Academy with the responsibility of compiling materials for writing official histories. In 1914, not long after the establishment of the Republic of China, the Cabinet approved the establishment of a Qing Historiography Institute on the premises of the former Institute. Archives from all over the former Qing dynasty court were collected, and many later became part of the collection of the Palace Museum.
6. Map of Taiwan
The "Map of Taiwan" was created during the Qianlong era. The map is 667 cm long and 46 cm wide. The map features bright and elegant pictures and an artistic value surpassing all existing maps of Taiwan.
7. Illustration of Victory: Archives of the Grand Council
The "Illustration of Victory:Archives of the Grand Council" illustrates the course of pacifying the rebellions led by Dawats and Amursana (leaders of the Zunghar tribe, Oirats, Mongolia) as well as those led by Bulanidun and Hojijan (i.e., in the Battle of Daxiaohezhuo) in 1755, 1758, and 1759. Qianlong decreed that four of the imperial court Western painters (i.e., Giuseppe Castiglione, Ignatius Sichelbart, Jean Denis Attiret, and Jean-Damascène Sallusti) sketch a draft of the said rebellions on silk. In 1764, he ordered that Giuseppe Castiglione et al. magnify the original paintings and send the official copies to the Guangdong customs office before shipping them to France The "Illustration of Victory:Archives of the Grand Council" illustrates the course of pacifying the rebellions led by Dawats and Amursana (leaders of the Zunghar tribe, Oirats, Mongolia) as well as those led by Bulanidun and Hojijan (ie., in the Battle of Daxiaohezhuo) in 1755, 1758, and 1759. Qianlong decreed that four of the imperial court Western painters (ie., Giuseppe Castiglione, Ignatius Sichelbart, Jean Denis Attiret, and Jean-Damascène Sallusti) sketch a draft of the said rebellions on silk. In 1764, he ordered that Giuseppe Castiglione et al magnify the original paintings and send the official copies to the Guangdong customs office before shipping them to France