Concubines'The Lovers'



"Of the 300 girls that were brought in, just five of us were selected."



About the concubines

They were brought to the palace for one reason: to produce a royal heir. All arrived as beautiful virgins, and those who finally passed the rigorous selection process had to uphold ideal virtues: be submissive, thrifty, able to hunt, and most of all, chaste. It was forbidden for any man to enter the court ladies' palaces, except for the eunuchs assigned to guard them, and the emperor himself. 

Royal consorts and concubines were governed by a hierarchy that defined their privileges and the legitimacy of their children. The fastest way to climb the ranks was to give birth to the next emperor, and competition to produce an heir was fierce. Countless stories of drama and intrigue surround concubines within the palace, the most famous involving the Empress Dowager Cixi and a beautiful young concubine who met her untimely death at the bottom of a well…

Within the Forbidden City

The only time imperial women were allowed to leave the Inner Court was for grand celebrations in the Outer Court. The empress, consorts, and concubines lived in the Six Western and Six Eastern Palaces within the Inner Court. Concubines of a lower rank could not live in a palace designated for a higher rank.

concubines location map

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