Transparent Stage: The Qianlong Emperor and His Glass Yurts | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


This essay has focused on the glass yurts used in the New Year ceremony during the Qianlong period and attempted to shed light on such ephemeral experience and performative effects of temporary architecture. Every New Year, in front of the Zhongzheng Dian (the Buddhist center in the Forbidden City), the Qianlong Emperor would command to erect the glass yurt pane-by-pane and hold the grandest of all imperial Buddhist ceremonies inside it. The emperor himself, on this occasion, resembled the statues of the Buddha in glass niches that were often given as presents to Tibetan lamas by the Qing emperors. Outside of the yurts was the cham ritual dance performed by high-ranking monks to empower and bless the audiences. In the Qing context, glass material was not only a precious material brought by the Europeans that was suitable for creating a spectacle in the court ceremony, but also related to Buddhist concepts “pure” and “empty” long been used in making offerings and devotional objects. The emperor distinguished himself from other audiences by using the asymmetric visibility in and out of the glass yurts combined with his parade to enter the yurts. This enhanced the performative nature of the emperor’s presence and integrated it with the imperial religious ritual.


Article metrics loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error