According to Confucius, in youth, physical powers are not yet settled, so one must guard against lust; when he is strong, his physical powers are vigorous, so one must guards against quarrelsomeness; when he is old, his physical powers have declined, and he must guard against covetousness. The name of this hall reflects the Qianlong Emperor’s respect for the Kangxi Emperor’s advice to guard against covetousness, and acted as a reminder for himself of such a principle, both for himself as well as his successors.
The Qianlong Emperor favoured jade as he believed that paper only lasted for a thousand years but a piece of jade would last forever. He had important calligraphy and ancient paintings incised onto jades, and important calligraphy by the great masters, Buddhist scriptures and writings were incised onto jades, which were then made into albums that would be passed on to future generations.
According to the Qinggong Neiwufu Zaobanchu Huoji Dang (‘Qing Palace Household Department Workshop Crafts Archives’), various workshops were ordered to produce inventories in the 47th year of the Qianlong reign. The imperial workshop recorded that on the 20th day of the 11th month, "a jade album inscribed with a Jiede Tang mark sent from Suzhou was presented by Vice Director Wu De and official Da Dase et al. A jade album was given to Dong Gao for gilt-inscription and to make a zitan box with a sliding cover ornamented in gold. On the 1st day of the 5th month in the 48th year, a jade album inscribed with a Jiede Tang mark, placed within a zitan box with a sliding cover ornamented in gold was given to the eunich Eluli to be presented. It was thus sent to the Maoqin Dian (Hall of Merit and Diligence) to be inscribed and labelled, then once completed to be transferred to Rehe, by imperial decree.
(on the 22th day of the 5th month, official Chang Cun completed the transfer of the Jiede Tang jade album with box to Rehe.)
A great art connoisseur whose collection spanned across the past and present, the Qianlong Emperor played an important role in shaping the imperial taste. His collection and taste was both unprecedented and unmatched by successors, offering a glimpse of the prosperity and glamour of his long reign, his approach as the ruler, his aesthetic preferences and enjoyment of the arts.
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