Permanent Collection

Archives of the Grand Secretariat

The archives of the Grand Secretariat currently housed at the Institute were originally kept at the Grand Secretariat Storehouse in the Ch’ing imperial palace. In 1929, the Institute purchased them from Li Sheng-to, a book collector, thanks to the efforts of Fu Ssu-nien, the Institute’s first director. The exhibition in this area is divided into three topics: “ The Manchu State” “Official Documents,” and “ Government Examinations.” The exhibition includes not only imperial decrees, edicts, memorials, tribute documents and other documents from the office of the Grand Secretariat and offices of book compilation, but also examination questions, examination papers, rosters of successful examination candidates, and even large and small placards of the palace examination. The archives are highly valuable for the light they shed on institutional, political and economic practices in the Ch’ing dynasty.

Duplicate Copy of Memorial (chieh-t'ieh) A duplicate copy of a memorial from the Provincial Governor of Honan, requesting the emperor’s permission for his retirement

Local officials were required to send at least three duplicate copies when they submitted memorials. One was kept at the Transmission Office, one was sent to the Board (in question), and one was sent to the Section (the particular Section concerned with the Board in question).

The Palace Examination Papers Li Ch'êng-hsi, 1802

Routine Memorial (t'i-pên) A memorial from the Provincial Governor of Shanhsi, reporting that the addition of honorary titles to the Empress Dowager would be announced to the public

As in the Ming, central and local officials in the Ch'ing used the t'i-pên to submit reports concerning administrative activities. Attached at the end of most t'i-pên was a slip of paper, called t'ieh-huang, which summarized the contents. Each t'i-pên was presented to the emperor for "endorsement" (p'i-hung) with one or several proposals (p'iao-ni) written on a slip or several slips of paper for imperial selection.

Imperial Edict in Honor of Ch’ien-lung ‘s 80th Birthday

Emperor Ch’ien-lung reigned for six decades. Under his rule, military accomplishments and domestic achievements in art, culture, and government reached their peak. In honor of the Ten Great Campaigns fought during his reign, Emperor Ch’ien-lung wrote an essay entitled “Record of the Ten Completions“, in which he enumerated these victories. In this essay, he referred to himself as “the old man who completed the Ten Great Campaigns”. On his 80th birthday (1790 AD), a grand celebration was held, and this imperial edict was announced. Tributary countries such as Korea, Ryukyu, and Burma all sent their emissaries and tributes.

Edict Naming Liu Jui-fên as the Ambassador to France, Italy, and Belgium

In the Ch’ing dynasty, edicts (ch’ih-shu) were used to appoint officials to posts outside of the capital. In 1885, Liu Jui-fên was appointed as the ambassador to Russia and Great Britain. Two years later, he was re-assigned as ambassador to France, Italy, and Belgium. Liu protested against the mining of gold by Russia in Mo-ho and maintained alliances with Burma and Korea as tributary states in order to strengthen the boarder regions of the Ch’ing dynasty.

The Great Golden Placard of the Military Palace Examination in 1844

The Large Golden Placard was a board upon which the list of the names of the chin-shih was pasted. After the ceremony during which the names of the new chin-shih were announced, the placard was hung on the East Ch'ang-an Gate for three days, after which it was taken down and stored in the Grand Secretariat.

The Small Golden Placard of the Civil Palace Examination in 1847

The ranking placard on which the names of successful examinees of the palace examination were written was known as the "Golden Placard", and there were two different sizes of this placard. The Small Golden Placard was a down-sized version of the Large Golden Placard prepared specifically for imperial inspection. This particular Golden Placard documents the names, ranks, and birth places of two hundred and thirty-one chin-shih, including Chang Chih-wan (who won the first place). The placard also displays the names of Shen Kui-fen (rank 8), Li Hung-chang (rank 36), Shen pao-chen (rank 39), Kuo Sung-t'ao (rank 60) of the second ranking, and Ma Hsin-I (rank 6) and Chu Tz'u-ch'i (rank 114) of the third ranking, all of whom were important figures of late Imperial China.

A Patent by Ordinance to Grant the son of Defender Duke the Title of Bulwark-general of the State.

In the Ch’ing dynasty, the “patent by ordinance”(kao-ming) was bestowed by the Emperor or obtained through inheritance. It conferred titles of honor on officials of the fifth rank or higher.

A Patent by Command to Grant Ch’ên Shih-ming the title of T’o-sha-la ha-fan (Commandant of Cavalry Second Class)

In the Ch’ing dynasty, the “patent by command”(ch’ih-ming) was bestowed by Emperor or obtained through inheritance. The ch’ih-ming conferred titles of honor on officials of the sixth rank or lower.

The Vermilion Copy of the Metropolitan Examination Papers Lo Yün, 6th rank

The Black Version of the Civil Metropolitan Examination Papers Hsieh Hsi, section 2, 1685

Last Testament of the K'ang-hsi Emperor

On December 20, 1722, the K’ang-hsi emperor died and proclaimed Yin-chên his heir in his last testament. This is a crucial document for scholars attempting to determine whether or not the Yung-chêng emperor acceded to the throne by fraud.