The Chinese Emperor’s Secret Garden


The Chinese Emperor Qian Long ruled at the height of the Qing dynasty for 60+ years during the 18th century when China was a bigger empire than it is today.

Besides ruling over a great empire the Emperor was a highly cultured patron of the arts and crafts of his time, and commissioned many works of art.

Having made a vow not to rule for longer than his Grandfather he planned his retirement carefully and built an annex in the Forbidden City, decorated with the finest art and crafts of his day.

He never did get to enjoy his creation, and after his death the uninhabited living quarters started falling into decay, until by recent times they were a shambles.

The film tells the story of the restoration of this section of the buildings by the conservators at the Forbidden City together with International help from the World Monuments Fund.

The restoration was begun in 2002 and took almost 6 years to complete, and employed some of the rarest craftsmen and women in China, in arts such as brocade, bamboo work and hand made paper, that seemed doomed to die owing to modern means of production.

Eventually the restoration was complete and one nice touch is that they took at least some of the people who had worked on the project from their often rural abodes to the Forbidden City to see their work in situ.


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