About Historical Artifacts in the Gallery

by janita on September 22, 2011
About Janita

Hello and welcome back to my blog! Today I would like to share with you some of the details of my family’s Royal Artifacts from Ch’ing Dynasty. All of the photos can be found in the Gallery section of this website.

My mother was betrothed to my father while she was still in her own mother’s womb. This was the engagement token exchanged between their parents during a carriage ride to a hide out retreat, while evading the rising warlords’ attacks in the city of Nanjing ,1910.

The antique blood red jade, laced with a silver dragon and phoenix in the center with butterflies around the rim, belonged to my father’s grandmother, Princess May Szee. Granddaughter of Emperor Xian Feng, a few rare royal artifacts remain in the family.

Emperor Quangxu, nephew of Empress Cixi Dowager, was chosen to be on the throne because Empress Cixi’s own son died young. While Empress Cixi tried to control the empire, Emperor Qangxu wanted to reform China. He also had my great-grandfather’s help to plan a coup to change power. Unfortunately, Empress Cixi got the upper hand and put the Emperor into house arrest in the Summer Palace.

Empress Cixi Dowager, grant-aunt of Princess May Szee, my great-grandmother, ruled China for 47 years. A concubine from a Manchurian family, she rose to become an Empress after she bore Emperor Xianfeng a son. She was eccentric, and she loved power and pleasures.

She did not understand why her country needed to progress along with other countries in the world. At first she liked my great-grandfather until he sided with Emperor Quangxu to reform China. She planned the assignation of my great-grandfather while he was visiting his hometown in Anhui. The decayed Ch’ing (Qing) Dynasty finally collapsed, and was overthrown by the new Republic of China led by Sun Yat– Sen.



The royal scroll from Emperor Qnanxu, dated July fourth of the second year of reign of Emperor Quangxu. The linen scroll was given to my great-grandfather Kan Gong Shun at the promotion celebration, where the Emperor gave his hand to Princess May Szee (granddaughter of Emperor Xianfeng) to be married to my great-grandfather.

Empress Cixi Dowager’s birthday feast china, specially made to commemorate the celebration. Her portrait, along with the handwritten “Virtuous mother under the heaven” is painted inside the porcelain bowl. The outside was painted with an elaborate floral design and laced with a pure silver dragon and phoenix. The silver banding at the top edge of the bowl is designed to turn black at the detection of any poison in the food.

From the wedding china, a pair of rice bowls belonged to my great-grandfather and Princess May Szee. It has been passed on to my parents for their wedding feast in Nanjing. The green jade bowl was carved from a sold block of jade, as was the red quartz. Both were laced with silver banding and the dragon and phoenix for embellishment.

My father entrusted me with these priceless artifacts since I am writing his book. There were many more treasures from my mother, Chow family, and the royal family, but because my mother had to care for so many family members during the evacuation for survival of the China/Japan War, many of the items were stolen or sold to trade for food and lodging. I am astonished how she could still keep these remaining treasures despite the extraordinary and dangerous circumstances.

Check out my new video about the book here: 

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Thank you for visiting. I’ll see you soon!

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