Hall of Embodied Treasures (Baoyunlou)

The Hall of Embodied Treasures (Baoyun Building) is the only building in the style of the Republic of China (1912-1949) within the Forbidden City (Palace Museum) in Beijing. It lies between the Hall of Martial Valor (Wuyingdian) and the West Prosperity Gate (Xihuamen). The Hall of Embodied Treasures was erected in 1915 to store cultural relics which had been transported to Beijing from the Shenyang Imperial Palace and the Chengde Mountain Resort. Now, the hall has been transformed into a museum to show the history of the Palace Museum.

History

The location of the Hall of Embodied Treasures was known as the Palace of Universal Safety (Xian'angong). This palace was where the deposed Crown Prince Yinreng lived during the reign of Qing Emperor Kangxi (1661-1722); the children of imperial family studied during the reign of Qing Emperor Yongzheng (1722-1735); and empress dowagers lived during the reign of Qianlong (1735-1795). However, a large fire destroyed the magnificent palace at the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), sparing only the Gate of Universal Safety. In 1915, the Hall of Embodied Treasures was constructed on the existing foundation of the palace and served as a storehouse of cultural relics.

Many kinds of rare treasures and curiosities from previous dynasties could be found in the Hall of Embodied Treasures, including porcelains, pictures, books, jewels, screens, antiques, calligraphy and paintings. All the rare treasures amounted to more than 230,000, among which calligraphy and paintings added up to 475.

Because the Hall of Embodied Treasures can no longer meet the requirements for storing cultural relics, the whole collection has been moved to the Capital Museum, the National Museum and other locations.

Layout

Covering a total area of 1,970 square yards (1,647 square meters), the Hall of Embodied Treasures consists of three buildings. It was designed and built in accordance with western styles, thus making it unique among the collection of traditional Chinese buildings in the Forbidden City.

The walls of the three buildings were made from bricks and decorated with cement on the outside. The walls were then carved with rectangular patterns and red paint was evenly applied. In contrast to these red walls, the window frames are white. In order to ensure the security of cultural relics, all the windows and doors have double layers with an outer iron layer to guard against fires and thefts. The north building, the most important of the three, covers a large area and has a unique exterior. It is connected with the two other buildings by corridors on either side.

Today's Hall of Embodied Treasures

The restored Hall of Embodied Treasures no longer serves as a storehouse of cultural relics. Instead, it has become an exhibition hall showing the history and historical evolution of the Palace Museum.

The exhibition focuses on preparations made for the opening of the Palace Museum in 1925 and on major historical events from 1925 to the establishment of People's Republic of China in 1949.

During restoration, historical relics of buildings in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) were found. After visiting the collection of Qing buildings in the Forbidden City, tourists can come here to further explore the architectural heritage of the Ming Dynasty and the Republic of China. Comparing and appreciating each unique architectural style can be a very interesting experience!

 Next:
See the Hall of Martial Valor (Wuyingdian) on the east.

Walk further east back to the Taihemen Square, and continue the tour along the central axis.
 Gate of Supreme Harmony (Taihemen)

 Further Reading: Virtual Guide of Forbidden City

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