“Life inside the Forbidden City: how women were selected for service” is the first chapter in the second section of a series published by the SCMP graphics team during 2018 about the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. Chapter one describes the lives of the women hidden in the depths of the palace and highlights the lifestyles of concubines.
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 close to six minutes. The Concubines chapter was repackaged in video format with the entire series receiving 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. The following books were used to corroborate data The Grand Forbidden City by Chiu Kwong Chiu; Forbidden City by Frances Wood ; 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);Daily Life in the Forbidden City by Wan Yi Wang Shuqing and Lu Yanzhen; Two Years in the Forbidden City by the Princess Der Ling (1911); 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 and Pablo Robles