Chinese emperor’s lavish quarters are restored

From Chinese emperor’s lavish quarters are restored.

In between dispatching armies to secure the empire and building China into the richest country in the world, the Qianlong Emperor commissioned a retirement home for himself in the Forbidden City palace.

Never intended as a simple hideaway, the garden quarters built in the 1770s by the fifth emperor in the Qing Dynasty set a standard for opulence befitting an emperor renowned for his power and refinement: screens inlaid with rare hardwoods, intricate silk embroideries, delicate carvings of jade and bamboo.

To Chinese eyes of 200 years ago, it screams wealth. “It’s as if everything is gold-plated,” said Nancy Berliner, a curator of Chinese art at Massachusetts’ Peabody Essex Museum.

Unused and sealed off for most the past century, the garden is three years into a 12-year restoration. One part, a lavish apartment and private theater for the emperor — the Studio of Exhaustion from Diligent Service — was officially completed Monday and will be open to the public next year for the first time ever.[continue].