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Cixi was born in the winter of 1835. According to the information listed on a red sheet (File No. 1247) within “Miscellaneous Pieces of the Palace” (a Qing dynasty documentation package retrieved from the First Historical Archives of China), Cixi was the daughter of Huizheng, an ordinary official from the Manchu Yehenara clan. Palace archives also show that Huizheng was a member of the Bordered Blue Banner of the Eight Banners, and was working in Beijing during the year of Cixi’s birth, indicating that Cixi was born in Beijing. Also, the file recorded the location of Cixi’s childhood home, which was Firewood Alley of West Sipailou, Beijing (Chinese: 西四牌楼劈柴胡同).
Chinese Empire, 1836 (July 4th) early folded entire from London to Canton, from a London firm “W. I. Hall & Co.” to “Wetmore & Co” in Canton, with oblong framed British company in China firm chop alongside, VF piece of early Chinese trading history, Very Fine. Realized HK$ 19,000
In 1851, Cixi participated in the selection for consorts to the new Xianfeng Emperor alongside sixty other candidates. Cixi was one of the few candidates chosen to stay. She was placed in the 6th rank of consorts, and styled “Noble Lady Lan” (Chinese: 蘭贵人). Among the other chosen candidates were Noble Lady Li of Tatala clan (later Consort Li), Concubine Yun of Wugiya clan, and Concubine Zhen of Niuhuru clan (later Xianfeng’s empress consort).
In 1854, Cixi was elevated to the 5th rank of consorts and given a title, styled “Imperial Concubine Yi” (Chinese: 懿嫔). In 1855, Cixi became pregnant.
On 27 April 1856, she gave birth to Zaichun, the Xianfeng Emperor’s only surviving son. Soon afterward, she was elevated to the 4th rank of consorts, styled “Consort Yi” (Chinese: 懿妃). In 1857, when her son reached his first birthday, Cixi was elevated to the 3rd rank consorts, and styled “Noble Consort Yi” (Chinese: 懿贵妃). This rank placed her second only to the Empresswithin Xianfeng’s harem.
Unlike many other women in the imperial harem, Cixi was known for her ability to read and write Chinese. This granted her ample opportunities to help the ailing emperor in daily state governing. On various occasions, the Xianfeng Emperor had Cixi read palace memorials for him, and leave instructions on the memorials according to his will. As a result, Cixi became well-informed about state affairs, and learned the art of state governing from the ailing emperor.
(Empress Dowager Tzu-hsi; Chinese: 慈禧太后; pinyin: Cíxǐ Tàihòu; Wade–Giles: Tz’u2-hsi3 T’ai4-hou4; Mandarin pronunciation: [tsʰǐɕì tʰâɪ̯ xɤ̂ʊ̯]; Manchu: Tsysi taiheo; 29 November 1835 – 15 November 1908), of the ManchuYehenara clan, was a powerful and charismatic woman who unofficially but effectively controlled the Manchu Qing dynasty in China for 47 years, from 1861 to her death in 1908.
Selected as an imperial concubine for
the Xianfeng Emperor
in her adolescence, she gave birth to a son, in 1856.
Second Opium War 1856-1880
and by the following month had burned the Emperor’s exquisite Old Summer Palace to the ground. The attack, under the command of Lord Elgin, was mounted in retaliation for the arrest on 18 September of British diplomatic envoy Harry Parkes and the torture and execution of a number of western hostages. The Xianfeng Emperor and his entourage, including Cixi, fled Beijing for the safety of Rehe in Manchuria. On hearing the news of the destruction of the Old Summer Palace, the Xianfeng Emperor (who was already showing signs of dementia) fell into a depression, turned heavily to alcohol and drugs, and became seriously ill.
empress dowager Ci’an
On 22 August 1861 the Xianfeng Emperor died at Rehe Palace in the city of Rehe (now Chengde, Hebei). Before his death, he summoned eight of his most prestigious ministers, headed by Sushun, Zaiyuan, and Duanhua, and named them the “Eight Regent Ministers” to direct and support the future Emperor. His heir, the son of Noble Consort Yi (future Empress Dowager Cixi), was only five years old. It is commonly assumed that on his deathbed, the Xianfeng Emperor summoned his Empress and Noble Consort Yi, and gave each of them a stamp. He hoped that when his son ascended the throne, his Empress and Noble Consort Yi would cooperate in harmony and, together, help the young emperor to grow and mature also meant as a check on the power of the eight regents however there is no evidence for this and it is unlikely he would ever have intended for the women to have any political power. It is possible that the seal allegedly given as a symbol for the child was really a present for noble consort yi (Cixi ) herself as informal seals numbered in the thousands and weren’t political items but objects of art commissioned for pleasure by emperors to stamp on things like paintings or given as presents to the concubines. Upon the death of the Xianfeng Emperor, his Empress Consort, aged 25, was elevated to the title Empress Dowager Ci’an(popularly known as the East Empress Dowager because she lived in the Eastern Zhong-Cui Palace), and Noble Consort Yi, aged 27, was elevated to the title Empress Dowager Cixi (popularly known as the West Empress Dowager because she lived inside the Western Chuxiu Palace).
By the time of the Xianfeng Emperor’s death,
Empress Dowager Cixi had become a shrewd strategist. In Jehol, while waiting for an astrologically favorable time to transport the coffin back to Beijing, Cixi conspired with powerful court officials and imperial relatives to seize power.
Cixi’s position as the lower-ranked Empress Dowager had no political power attached. In addition, her son the young emperor was not a political force himself.
As a result, it became necessary for her to ally herself with other powerful figures. the late emperor’s principal wife, the Empress Dowager Ci’an, Cixi suggested that they become co-reigning Empress Dowagers, with powers exceeding the Eight Regent Ministers, the two had long been close friends since Cixi first came to the harem .
Tensions grew among the Eight Regent Ministers, headed by Sushun, and the two Empresses Dowager.
The ministers did not appreciate Cixi’s interference in political affairs, and the frequent confrontations left the Empress Dowager Ci’an frustrated.
Ci’an often refused to come to court audiences, leaving Empress Dowager Cixi to deal with the ministers alone.
Secretly, Empress Dowager Cixi began gathering the support of talented ministers, soldiers, and others who were ostracized by the Eight Regent Ministers for personal or political reasons.
Among them was Prince Gong, who had great ambitions and was at that time excluded from the power circle, and the Prince Chun, the sixth and seventh sons of the Daoguang Emperor, respectively. While she aligned herself with these Princes, a memorial came fromShandong asking for Cixi to “listen to politics behind the curtains”, i.e., asking Cixi to become the ruler. The same petition also asked Prince Gong to enter the political arena as a principal “aide to the Emperor.”
When the Emperor’s funeral procession left for Beijing, Cixi took advantage of her alliances with Princes Gong and Chun.
She and the boy Emperor returned to the capital before the rest of the party, along with Zaiyuan and Duanhua, two of the principal regents, while Sushun was left to accompany the deceased Emperor’s procession. Cixi’s early return to Beijing meant that she had more time to plan with Prince Gong, and ensure that the power base of the Eight Regent Ministers was divided between Sushun and his allies, Zaiyuan and Duanhua.
History was re-written and the Regents were dismissed for having carried out incompetent negotiations with the “barbarians” which had caused Xianfeng Emperor to flee to Jehol “greatly against his will,” among other charges.
To display her high moral standards, Cixi executed only three of the eight regent ministers.
Prince Gong had suggested that Sushun and others be executed by the most painful method, known as slow slicing, but Dowager Cixi declined the suggestion and ordered that Sushun be beheaded, while the other two also marked for execution, Zaiyuan and Duanhua, were given white silks to allow them to commit suicide.
In addition, Cixi refused outright the idea of executing the family members of the ministers, as would be done in accordance with Imperial tradition of an alleged usurper. Ironically, Qing Imperial tradition also dictated that women and princes were never to engage in politics. In breaking with tradition, Cixi became the only Qing Dynasty Empress to rule from “behind the curtains” (垂簾聽政).
The Empress Dowager Cixi
With Xianfeng’s death in 1861 the young boy became the Tongzhi Emperor and she became Empress Dowager. Cixi ousted a group of regents appointed by the late emperor and assumed regency, which she shared with the Empress Dowager Ci’an. Cixi then consolidated control over the dynasty when, at the death of the Tongzhi Emperor, contrary to the dynastic rules of succession, she installed her nephew as the Guangxu Emperor in 1875. Although she refused to adopt Western models of government, she supported technological and military reforms and the Self-Strengthening Movement. Cixi rejected the Hundred Days’ Reforms of 1898 as impractical and detrimental to dynastic power and placed the Guangxu Emperor under house arrest for supporting reformers. After the Boxer Rebellion and the invasion of Allied armies, external and internal pressures led Cixi to effect institutional changes of just the sort she had resisted and to appoint reform-minded officials. The dynasty collapsed in late 1911, three years after her death, and the Republican Era was inaugurated 1 January 1912.
Historians both in China and abroad have generally portrayed her as a despot and villain responsible for the fall of the dynasty, while others have suggested that her opponents among the reformers succeeded in making her a scapegoat for problems beyond her control, that she stepped in to prevent disorder, that she was no more ruthless than other rulers, and that she was even an effective if reluctant reformer in the last years of her life.
In November 1861,
a few days following the coup, Cixi was quick to reward Yixin,
the Prince Gong, for his help.
He was made head of the General Affairs Office and the Internal Affairs Office, and his daughter was made a Gurun Princess, a title usually bestowed only on the Empress’s first-born daughter.
Yixin’s allowance also increased twofold. However, Cixi avoided giving Yixin the absolute political power that princes such as Dorgon exercised during the Shunzhi Emperor‘s reign. As one of the first acts from behind the curtains, Cixi (nominally along with Ci’an) issued two important Imperial Edicts on behalf of the Emperor.
The first stated that the two Empresses Dowager were to be the sole decision makers “without interference,” and the second changed the boy Emperor’s era name from Qixiang (祺祥; “Auspicious”) to Tongzhi (同治; “collective stable”).
However, despite being the sole decision makers, both Ci’an and Cixi were forced to rely on the Grand Council and a complex series of procedures in order to deal with affairs of state. When state documents came in, they were to be first forwarded to the dowager empresses, and then referred back to the prince adviser and the Grand Council. Having discussed the matters, the prince and his colleagues would seek the instruction of the dowager empresses at audiences and imperial orders would be drawn up accordingly, with drafts having to be approved by the dowagers before edicts were issued.
It also seems that their most important role during the regency was merely to apply their seals to edicts, a merely mechanical role in a complex bureaucracy.
Cixi’s entrance as the absolute power figure in China came at a time of internal chaos and foreign challenges. The effects of the Second Opium War were still hovering over the country, as the Taiping Rebellion continued its seemingly unstoppable advance through China’s south, eating up the Qing Empire bit by bit. Internally, both the national bureaucracy and regional authorities were infested with corruption. 1861 happened to be the year of official examinations, whereby officials of all levels presented their political reports from the previous three years. Cixi decided that the time was ripe for a bureaucratic overhaul, where she personally sought audience with all officials above the level of provincial governor, who had to report to her personally. Cixi took on part of the role usually given to the Bureaucratic Affairs Department (吏部). Cixi also executed two prominent officials to serve as examples as a more immediate solution: Qingying, a militaryshilang who had tried to bribe his way out of demotion, and He Guiqing, then Viceroy of Liangjiang, who fled Changzhou in the wake of an incoming Taiping army as opposed to trying to defend the city.
Another significant challenge Cixi faced was the increasingly decrepit state of the country’s Manchu elite. Since the beginning of the dynasty most major positions at court had been held by Manchus, and Emperors had generally shown contempt for powerful Han Chinese. Cixi, again in a reversal of Imperial tradition, entrusted the country’s most powerful military unit against the Taiping army into the hands of a Han Chinese, Zeng Guofan. Additionally, in the next three years, Cixi appointed Han Chinese officials to become governors of all southern Chinese provinces, raising alarm bells in an administration traditionally fond of Manchu dominance
Elle était très mal perçue par les Han car elle était Mandchoue. A l’école, on m’a enseigné (et donc pas qu’a moi) qu’elle était une mauvaise impératrice et qu’elle était en partie responsable du désastre qui frappa la chine alors. De plus elle a fuie la capitale, abandonnant le peuple …bref elle n’était vraiment pas bien vu à l’époque et jusqu’à il a peu. Depuis deux ou trois ans les chaines chinoises diffusent des reportages qui réabilitent un peu son image, mais bon ce n’est pas la souveraine la plus populaire de la chine ancienne, loin de là.
Summer palace painting
The Qing Imperial paintings occupies an important position among the court painters. With its original , somewhat poetic theme and fine, precise grushwork it ranks among the best Chinese figure paintings. An aptitute fr figure paintings from an early age, and this is borne out by varius anecdote.
The Qing Empress had her Hall repaired and was so proud of the newly whitewashed walls that when Her Majesty out she order a serving kasim boy to make sure that no one touched and dirtied them. But after the the fall of china imperial, some off the imperial painting in dirty and almost off because no one tooke care that very rare imperial paintings.before all became broken and faded , I think better I install the imperial painting in my blog and my be the native Chinese Painting collector will help me to write the more best narations .
The Qing Empress eager to paint something on the wall, sent the by off to have a meal and took advantage of his abscence to her majesty aske the court painter to stack up some tables and stand on them to paint a portrait of Confucius. When the servant boy came back and saw the snow-white wall covered with a painting he burst into tears for fear of his Majesty’s eager. But the Qing emperor ‘s father in Law on his return was so struck by the lifelike figure of Confucius that he went down on his knees to worship it, thingking Confucius had descended to protect the Royal house.
The legend story about how the Qing imperial painter copied the earlier imperial artist’s works. Having heard that there were stone inscriptions of the potraits oth the seventy-two diciples of Confucius by Li Kung Lin on the walls of the Hangchow Prefectural Collage, The imperial painter sailed dwn the river Chientang to Hangchow with the necessary equipment and before long returned with a set of carefully made rubbings. For ten days he stayed at home behind closed doors to study LiKung lin technique, and when he showed his copies of potraits and the original rubbings to his friends they praised the close likeness he had acchieved.
But he still was not satisfied. he worked for ten more days and this time when he showed the results to his friends he was delighted to be told that they further from the originals, for instead of merely making faithful copies he had displayed originality, freely interpreting Li Kung Lin’s manner and improving his own style. This had been the purposed f his study. The cnturs of his figures are graceful yet dignbified, vivid and strong with a suureness of touch that makes every strke seeminevitable. The lines of the drapery not only suggest the texture of the material but the way it cling to the figure. Pleats,seams,curves and fld are painted simply and precisely, while the pstures and gestures are brilliantly executed,corresponding closely to the speed and force of each figure’s movement, with a natural grace and harmny between the contour
lines and the folds of the garment.
The soul of figure painting lies in characterization, and the technique of line-drawing might be called the mainstay of characterization. For a painting like the court ladies is made entirely of lines, quite unlike Chinese paintings of the “boneless” type in which artist generally make sketches without any outline and the apply colour washed. If all the lines here were removed these would be no painting left, and this is te most important feaurure of Qing Imperial painting.
To give each line such accuracy that it is a generalized expression or ordinary movements means understanding the general rules governing gestures and movements and depicting them with a minimum of fine lines. This can only be achieved by long and hard practice and not by talent alone.The Qing Imperial painter’s line drawing technique show that he was both gifted and painstaking. He neither disobeyed the rules of plastic art to make a parade of his versatility not stopped to thoughtless, naturalistic sketching. His brushwork is charcaterized by simplicity,dignity and natural grace, yet careful thought obviously went into each line, for we cannt find a single careless strke and the whole work shows his mastery of technique.
Many of the Qing Imperial painters themes are inspired by the plataeu of mountains , landscaped and palace hall , they shows originality in their composition and brushwork.
One of the Qing Imperial painter hearing that there was a “Love-seed Court’ with a tree bearing the red seeds, he paid a special visit to it but he saw only green leaves but no red seeds. He write a poem :
summer palac jade ship at aummer palace lake
Red seeds grow in the south
How many shots have they put frt this spring?
Pick them inplenty,friend
For these are seeds of love!
The theme of Qing Imperial Painting illustrations :
1. The Mountain landscape : six paintings
2. The Palace hall : three paintings
3. The Bird : two paintings
4. The Court ladies : three paintings
5. The Human figures :three paintings including Confucius.
6. Pagoda : one paintings
@copyright Dr Iwan s 2010
This the original painting forbidden to Copy. Illustrations provenance dr Iwan bought from the Qing Imperial family by my Grandpa which he bring to Sumatra as the souvenier, this timeforbidden to take photos in summer palace because the painting became more vade and broken, please save our heritage special for the Chinese overseas collectors please this picture became your refrences,I will put in my collaboration with Zheng he Museum Penang.
Imperial Spitting Vase
Imperial Rice Bowl & soup Bowl
Imperial Chopestick holder
Imperial Stoneware figurine
Imperial cover box
Empress yellow Tea Cup
Imperial Meiping Vase
Imperial stoneware Tea Pot
Imperial red Vase
The Qing imperial vase