An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Baxun wanshou shengdian 八旬萬壽盛典

Dec 8, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Baxun wanshou shengdian 八旬萬壽盛典 "Canon on imperial favours bestowed during the (Emperor's) eightieth decade of life" is a description of the ceremonies and activities held for the festivities of the birthdays of the Qianlong Emperor 乾隆帝 (r. 1735-1796) of the Qing dynasty 清 (1644-1911), from his seventieth on (1781). The compilation was supervised by Grand Academician Agūi 阿桂 (1717-1797), and the book was finished in 1792.

The 120-juan long book is divided into 8 chapters. The first part is a kind of annals, the second describes virtuous behavior of Emperor (Sheng de 聖德). In the third, the military successes of the emperor are described (Sheng gong 聖功). The fourth part (Sheng shi 盛事) describes various ceremonies, like congratulations by the grandsons, receptions of guests and exceptional people (for instance, women with male triplets or quadruplets), bankets, the bestowal of ranks and titles by grace, audiences, offerings, parades and concerts. The fifth is particularly dedicated to imperial favours (En lai 恩賚), like special edicts, tax abatements, extraordinary examinations, bankets, presents, or inspection tours.

The last two parts consist of charts and maps (Tuhui 圖繪), and poems (Gesong 歌頌). The collection is very unique in the history of administrative literature and serves at the one hand to demonstrate the Qianlong Emperor's extraordinary benevolence towards his ministers and the people, and at the other hand sets the standards for the celebration of an extraordinary reign in a remarkable empire, as the Qing state was at that time.

Wang Ying 王穎, Du Juan 杜鵑, Wang Jiannan 王建楠 (2016). "Cong Baxun wanshou shengdian tu kan Qianlong shiqi Qinggong de xiqu huoding: Yi Bishu Shanzhuang Qingyinge wei li 從《八旬萬壽盛典圖》看乾隆時期清宮的戲曲活動——以避暑山莊清音閣為例", Hebei Minzu Shifan Xueyuan xuebao 河北民族師範學院學報, 2016 (8).