Palace of Earthly Honor (Yikungong)

The Palace of Earthly Honor, Yikungong in Chinese, is one of the Six Western Palaces in the inner court of the Forbidden City, located to the north of the Palace of Eternal Longevity (Yongshougong), south of the Palace of Gathered Elegance (Chuxiugong), and east of the Palace of Eternal Spring (Changchungong). It was built in 1420 in Ming Yongle 18 years and originally known as Palace of Myriad Peace (Wan'angong). In 1535 of Ming Jiajing reign 14 years, it was renamed the Palace of Earthly Honor (Yikungong). In the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties, it was where the concubines lived. The empress Dowager Cixi celebrated her 50th birthday here. It has now been opened to tourists to display ancient concubines’ daily life.
 

What does the name Yikungong mean?

“Yi” means “assist”, while “Kun” refers to empress who lived in the Palace of Earthly Tranquility (Kunninggong), so “Yikun” means assisting empress to manage the affairs of the inner court. This also indicates that the concubine who lived here was second only to empress in the inner court. “Gong” means palace in Chinese.
 

Connection with Palace of Gathered Elegance (Chuxiugong) in 1885

Yikungong originally had a layout shaped like Chinese character “日” with 2 courtyards. In the reign of Qing Guangxu, to celebrate the 50th birthday of empress Dowager Cixi, it was opened up with the Palace of Gathered Elegance (Chuxiugong) to form a palace with 4 courtyards. However, the door between the two palaces can still be closed to form two separate palaces, too.
 

Famous Concubines Lived in Palace of Earthly Honor (Yikungong):

1. Ming Noble Concubine Zheng (1565 - 1630)

She is the concubine of Ming Shenzong and enjoyed all great wealth during her lifetime, while was not buried with the emperor and her son was killed by rebels.
 

2. Ming Noble Concubine Yuan (? - 1654)

She was deeply loved by the emperor Chongzhen, the last emperor of Ming, and had a princess, but ended up hanging herself after the rebels entered Beijing.
 

3. Qing Imperial Noble Concubine Dunsu (? -1725)

This is the Concubine Nian in the hot TV series “Zhen Huan Biography”. In real life, she was also the famous General Nian Gengyao’s sister, and had three sons and a daughter with the emperor Yongzheng, but all of them died in infancy. 
 

4. Qing Concubine Dun (1746 - 1806)

She gave birth to a daughter in Yikungong, who was known in history as the tenth princesses of Qianlong, Gulun Hexiao princess.
 

5. Qing Noble Concubine Yi (1835 - 1908)

She is the concubine of emperor Xianfeng, famous empress dowager Cixi in history. In the 10th year of the reign of emperor Guangxu, Cixi moved to the palace on her 50th birthday. From then on, she would receive respects and congratulations from concubines here on every grand festival. In the 13th year of Guangxu, she held a concubine selection for the seventeen-year-old emperor Guangxu here.
 

6. Qing Empress Wanrong (1905 - 1946)

As the empress of Puyi, the last emperor of Qing, she came to Yikungong when she was only 17 years old, a lively and playful age. She had received a western-style education outside the palace. Therefore, she did a lot of decoration and transformation of Palace of Earthly Honor according to her own preferences, including installing two swings.
 

Damage in 2013

At 11:10 am on May 4, 2013, a man smashed a window glass of the main hall of Yikungong with his bare hands, causing a cultural relic clock that stood next to the window to fall and be damaged. The incident prompted officials of Forbidden City to speed up works of upgrading the palace's glass, install high-definition cameras intensively throughout the Forbidden City, arrange video surveillance staff everywhere to ensure that there is no “dead corner” in the more than 100 hectares of the Forbidden City, so as to prevent such incidents from happening again. 
 

See more Six Western Palaces

- Last modified on Jul. 22, 2020 -
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