|Emperor Qianlong 乾隆 (Qiánlóng, (1711–1799) wrote the inscription above the throne, 建极绥猷 (Jiànjí Suíyóu), which says roughly, "to the god, to the people", meaning that the emperor stood between heaven and the people and was responsible to both. The duty to god comes first, but the wishes of the people are in balance. In traditional characters, the inscription is read from right to left: 猷綏極建.
The present plaque is a copy made from an old photograph found by the Museum staff after 1924 when they began the restorations and remodeling to make the Forbidden City into a museum. Yuan Shikai, the warlord who bargained his way to become the first President of the Republic, had had ambitions of founding his own dynasty 中华帝国 (Zhōnghuá dìguó), with himself as the Hongxian Emperor 洪宪 (Hóngxiàn). He had the throne removed and substituted a modern overstuffed couch and removed the plaque and couplets. Fortunately, the museum staff found the throne in storage when they took over, but could not find the plaque.
Last update: January 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2009