Treasures from the Forbidden City
View into the Emperor's Theater
A circular portal one similar to the "moongates" that are a common outdoor feature of Chinese gardens opens on to a ground level view of the Emperor's theater. The Emperor loved illusions and filled the pavilions of the Qianlong Garden with them. One of them is visible at rear a two-story wall painting of a garden as seen through a trompe l'oeil painted portal that mimics the real one that we look through in the foreground. Through the circular entry a white crane, symbol of longevity, peers into the room. The "bamboo" lattice work in the foreground is itself an illusion real bamboo would crack in the cold winters of Beijing, so the Emperor's craftsmen used carved wood, which they stained to create the appearance of bamboo.