This pattern is rare in the Forbidden City (see Figure 1). The Gate of Martial Valor（武英门）was destroyed by fire in the eighth year of the reign of Emperor Tongzhi, Qing dynasty (1869), and rebuilt in the same year . Therefore, the Pu Shou should belong to the late Qing Dynasty. Compared with the Door Knockers of Ming Dynasty and early or middle Qing Dynasty, the greatest change is that all the features of the snail are weakened: 1, the three-lobed round nose becomes a nose with two nostrils; 2, two eyes opened wide with a few crow’s feet at the corners; 3, the flame-like snail eyebrows have become two stroke warrior-like thick eyebrows; 4, the “U” shaped horns become forked antlers; 5, the biggest change is the disappearance of the forehead round lid-like structure, which is replaced by a tiger’s “丰” pattern.
The word “Pu Shou” first appeared in the Han Dynasty, in memory of Emperor Ai, the history of Han Dynasty (汉书), volume 11: “the bronze tortoises, snakes and the beast-faced door knockers at the entrance of the Xiaoyuan Temple wailed in mourning together .” What is a Pu Shou? According to Wang Xiaoqing, “Chinese Ancient Architectural Terminology Dictionary”: Pu Shou is a decorative handle pull on the door. It is named because it was laid in the shape of a beast’s head .”
Jiao Tu is the ninth son of the dragon in ancient Chinese myths and legends. The Jiao Tu door knocker first appeared in the late yuan and early Ming Dynasty . “The shape of the Jiao Tu looks like a snail, which nature is to keep its mouth shut, so it stands on the door , see Figure 2.”
The figure 1 shows a Pu Shou with its ring pull. Its Jiao Tu’s appearance is more like the face of a lion with the characteristics of a snail: its nose triple-lobed, flat and wide; eyes prominent like those of a lion; snail-shell shaped eyebrows look like flames, or the distorted lion’s hair; horns U-shaped. There is a round lid-like structure between two horns. What is this, no relevant information was found.
The Pu Shou of Han Dynasty usually has a “山” pattern (Figure 3, after Yang Guiping, On the ancient Chinese Pu Shou). This pattern is derived from the abstraction of the 山-shaped tall crown worn by ancient wizards . Let’s look at the Pu Shou of the Gate of Yongshou Palace again, the two horns and the central “round lid” structure plus an arrow above it form a “山”-shaped pattern. It seems that the evolution of the Pu Shou is traceable. As for the meaning of the “round lid” structure, it is presumed to be the operculum of the snail shell, or called the shell lid. If you look closely at Figure 1, you can find a concave pattern at the front of the “round lid” structure, like a half-opening operculum. This view has not been supported by written materials, only for personal “joking” speculation.
The Yonghe Palace is located in the east six palaces. After Guangxu’s wedding, it has been the residence of the Imperial Concubine Jin until her death on September 24,1924 . When people talk about the Yonghe Palace and the Imperial Concubine Jin, it is necessary to mention the jadeite cabbage, one of the three treasures of the National Palace Museum in Taipei. It is said that the jadeite cabbage was a part of dowry of the Imperial Concubine Jin, unfortunately, there is no evidence to support it. Only “the Palace items auditing report” issued by the Caretaker Committee of the Qing Dynasty Imperial Family in 1925 confirmed that the jadeite cabbage had existed in a jade pot in the Yonghe Palace . However, according to the introduction of the exhibits of the National Palace Museum in Taipei said that the jadeite cabbage was found “in a Begonia flower shaped enamel pot” .
For some reason, the full map of the Forbidden City published by the National Palace Museum in Beiping in 1948 marked Chong Lou（崇楼） as Sui Lou（祟楼）。It seems that it is not a typo, because the English label matches it. The exact reason remains to be determined.
The well pavilion in the backyard of Yonghe Palace is very unique. There is a cast-iron hand press pump in it. You can find the name of THE GOULDS M’F’G. CO. casted on the pump. The manufacturer was originally a pump company in New York, started to use the name since 1869. It is now a brand owned by Xylem Inc. The palace was last restored in the 16th year of Guangxu (1890) , and it is likely that the press pump was installed during the renovation (to be confirmed) . Look carefully, you’ll find that the pump base has been broken. If you start counting in 1890, it will be 129 years old this year (2019).
In the north sides of Jiyi Hall （集义殿）and Benren Hall（本仁殿）, there are two stone bases of bronze vats separately. At first I mistook them for dry wells because of the rare grey-brick plinth, thanks to the advice of a Weibo friend. When the bronze vats were removed, I am reminded of the Japanese dedication of copper and iron campaign in 1944. In response to the incident, the The Palace Museum conducted an inventory of 277 bronze vats in the Forbidden City. It includes: type 1: 98 pieces of bronze vats with Ming and Qing Dynasty manufacture signature mark; type 2: 125 pieces of bronze color similar to those made in the Ming Dynasty but without manufacture signature mark; type 3: 54 pieces of no identification and the style can not be judged to belong to the Ming Dynasty. Finally, on June 19, 1944, the Palace Museum handed over 54 bronze vats belonging to the third category of no identification to the Japanese army . As to whether these lost copper vats were included in the list of 54 unidentifiable copper vats, a check of the inventory at that time will make it clear. Another question remains to be answered. It is now generally accepted that there are 308 bronze vats in the Forbidden City, 31 of which are different from the 277 counted in 1944.
PS: 网友不得不犯狗提及，1944年文华殿仍归古物陈列所管辖。 A Weibo friend mentioned that in 1944, the Hall of Literary Brilliance was still under the jurisdiction of the National Museum of Art, Peiping.