Friday, March 11, 2016

Violating Imperial Etiquette

Imperial Chinese eunuchs carrying and attending to the Chinese Empress, circa 1900 —  No society clung more tenaciously to the long-established custom of having eunuchs at Royal and Imperial courts than the Chinese. Confucianism promoted all things ancient, chiding every dynastic Monarch to meticulously follow those precedents set not only by saintly historical Kings of old, but also by God-Kings glorified in China's legendary past. Chronicles of those courts reveal that Chinese Kings as early as the 8th Century B.C. kept castrated servitors. — Source Hidden Power: The Palace Eunuchs of Imperial China

Punished for Curiosity:
A Learned Chinese Doctor Pays Dearly for a Little Innocent Sightseeing

It is dangerous to gratify curiosity or to violate precedent at the Chinese Imperial court. The Empress dowager is a great stickler for etiquette. Recently she required the services of Dr. Li Teoh'ang, Vice President of the Imperial Academy of Physicians, at Peking, for one of the members of her suite at Eho Park Palace. 

The learned doctor had never been inside these famous palace grounds, and his curiosity was fired to see the many curious objects of which he had heard wonderful tales. So he bribed a palace eunuch to show him around the grounds. While the two were leisurely walking about and enjoying themselves, the Empress spied them. She at once dispatched servants to punish their effrontery.

The eunuch was seized, thrown on his face and accommodated with 50 blows with the bamboo on the calves of his fat legs. The doctor was docked three months' pay and received a severe reprimand, while his assistant was ordered never to venture again into the Empress' presence. 

The affair created a sensation because of the high position of the physician and of the humiliating punishment dealt out to him. —New York Sun, 1894

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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