|On the east side of the Hall of Union and Peace 交泰殿 (Jiāotài Diàn) there is a clepsydra, a water clock dating to 1745, and on the west side there is a chiming mechanical clock built in 1798.
One of the most interesting features of the hall is the sign above the throne with two large characters on it: 無為 (无为 wúwéi). It means "let things take their own course.” It is the Daoist doctrine of inaction and was copied by Qianglong in Kangxi’s imperial calligraphy. It reminds the ruler that too much govenment interferes with the natural balance between Yin and Yang.
The Shunzhi Emperor 順治 (Shùnzhì) used this hall to make a proclamation banning eunuchs from participation in State affairs. Eunuchs were not to take part in government or influence imperial decisions. The Qing had identified the dependence on corrupt eunuchs during the Ming Dynasty as one of the major weaknesses of .the previous dynasty.
In 1746, the Qianlong Emperor 乾隆 (Qiánlóng, (1711–1799) decided to have 25 imperial seals created and placed them in this hall. The number twenty-five is propitious in the Chinese number system. It is the sum of the odd numbers 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 9, and bears all of the good fortune of each. The hope was that the twenty-five seals would be used by twenty-five successive emperors, making the Qing Dynasty the longest in history. There were 12 Qing emperors, if the two who ruled before the conquest of China are included. There might have been more, but Kangxi ruled for 61 years, from 1661 to 1722, and Qianlong retired in 1795, in his 60th year of rule, so as to not outdo his grandfather. Qianlong gave up the title, but not the power. He died in 1799.
Last update: January 2010
© Marilyn Shea, 2009