“How an army of eunuchs ran the Forbidden City” is the second chapter in the second section of a series published by the SCMP graphics team during 2018 about the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. This chapter describes the life of eunuchs and how they wielded incredible influence over the emperor and matters of state. It is interesting to note that while they were servants, the eunuch institution gained power over all the dynasties of imperial China.
What makes this project innovative?
All the data used are historical, based on contemporary chronicles and ancient narratives. The research was made on-site at museums and libraries in Beijing and Taipei. Many of the processes described are very complex but visual explanations make the story accessible. The use of bold colours and simple animation is designed to keep readers engaged throughout this long read which is subdivided into three sections.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
This chapter has exceeded half a million unique page views since its release, with an average reading time exceeding five minutes. The Eunuchs chapter is being repackaged in video format and the entire series has received about two million visits to date.
Source and methodology
The primary sources of data are from onsite field research: the team spent several weeks in China and Taiwan collecting information from the Palace Museum of Beijing, Taipei National Palace Museum, the Ancient Architecture Museum of Beijing and the public library of Hong Kong. Some books also reinforced the corroboration of data Forbidden City Beijing Palace Museum; National Palace Museum of Taiwan; The Grand Forbidden City by Chiu Kwong Chiu; Forbidden City by Frances Wood ; Chinese Eunuchs by Taisuke Mitamura; Chinese Eunuchs by G. Carter Stent; The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (NY), 1945/1963; The manchu dragon, costumes of the ching dynasty 1644-1912 by Jean Mailey (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY); Traditional Chinese Clothing: Secrets of the Dragon Robes By Juexiao Zhang; Daily Life in the Forbidden City by Wan Yi Wang Shuqing and Lu Yanzhen; Banquets at the Palace by Jacqueline M. Newman; Two Years in the Forbidden City by the Princess Der Ling (1911); Hidden Power, The Palace eunuchs of Imperial China by Mary M. Anderson; Servants of the Dynasty by Anne Walthall; The Last Emperors, A social history of Qing Imperial Institutions by Evelyn S. Rawski; The Institution of Polygamy in the Chinese Imperial Palace by Keith McMahon
Marcelo Duhalde Pablo Robles Darren Long