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US exhibition unveils lives of empresses

By China Daily in Salem, Ma | China Daily | Updated: 2018-08-21 08:30
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The portrait of Empress Xiaoxian in 1777.[Photo/Peabody Essex Museum]

A new show about the women of Chinese royal courts at a museum in the United States highlights the growing cultural ties between the two countries

The women of the Chinese imperial court were a special group of people throughout the country's long history. As the wives of the most esteemed rulers of the land, it is easy to imagine how magnificent their lives once were, given their social standing. Yet since written records and documents focus more on the rulers, who were male, the details of the royal women's lives largely remain a mystery.

To shed some light on these untold stories of the queens, an exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, United States, opened recently. Titled Empresses of China's Forbidden City, the exhibition features hundreds of spectacular objects from the Chinese court over the centuries.

"This is the first major exhibition that explores the role of the empresses in China's last dynasty, the Qing Dynasty from 1644 to 1911. In many respects, it's quite surprising that this topic hasn't been tackled before," says Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, the James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes deputy director of the PEM, during a recent media preview of the exhibition.

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