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.

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.

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 new heights. 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), a grand celebration was held, and the imperial edict displayed here was announced. Tributary countries such as Joseon, Ryukyu, and Burma all sent emissaries and tributes.

Nominative Command Naming Chi Yün the Provincial Education Commissioner of Fukien

In the Ch’ing dynasty, command edicts (ch’ih-shu) were used to appoint officials to posts outside of the capital, and tso-ming-ch’ih (Nominative Commands) were issued bearing appointees’ names and titles. These commands proclaimed the appointment of officials to the positions, such as Governor-General, Provincial Governor, Education Commissioner, Superintendent of Imperial Silk Manufacturing, Provincial Commander-in-chief, or Brigade-General.

Patent by Ordinance to Grant Paoliang the Title of Feng-en chiang-chün or "Noble of 12th Rank Imperial Lineage"

In the Ch’ing dynasty, the “patent by ordinance”(kao-ming) was bestowed by the Emperor or obtained through inheritance with no limitation on generation of inheritance. It conferred titles of honor on officials of the fifth rank or higher. The title of Feng-en chiang-chün was conferred to officers of the fourth rank.

Patent by Command to Grant Chu San-t’ai the Title of Pai-t’a-la-pu-le ha-fan or " The 7th Highest of the 9 Rank Non-imperial Nobility"

In the Ch’ing dynasty, the “patent by command”(ch’ih-ming) was bestowed by the Emperor or obtained through inheritance. There was a limitation on the numbers of generations who could inherit this title. The ch’ih-ming conferred titles of honor on officials of the sixth rank or lower. Pai-t’a-la-pu-le ha-fan was ranked seventh in this nine grade nobility. In 1735, the title Pai-t’a-la-pu-le ha-fan was changed to Cavalry Commander.

Edict from the Grand Secretariat

In the Ch’ing dynasty, imperial edicts issued through the Grand Secretariat were referred to as ming-fa shang-yü.

Announcement from the Board of War (Ping Pu) Addressed to Soldiers

In July 1673, Wu San-kuei petitioned for retirement from his post as the feudal prince of Yunnan; official permission was granted. Six months later, Wu rose up in revolt, and the Ch'ing court immediately sent troops to settle the rebellion. Announcements addressed to soldiers prohibited them from interfering with citizens during altercations with the rebels.

Ching-Wei-P’i-Wên from the Censorate to the Investigating Censor, Mi-hsiang

When Ch’ing officials were posted outside of the capital, they were directed to apply for a ching-wei-p’i-wên from Tu-ch’a yüan (Censorate) which would state the reason for this posting. Ch’ing officials were directed to obtain such documentation at Wu-men (Meridian Gate) and were to have these documents verified at the post to prevent fraud.

Order to Name Wang Ying-hsiang Subprefectural Magistrate

A Cha or "order" referred to a document sent from a superior to a subordinate. Generally speaking, the Cha was a more informal official document without a serial number.

Congratulatory Memorial to the Empress Dowager from the Tao-kuang Emperor

In the Ch’ing dynasty, officials submitted congratulatory memorials (piao) to the emperor and empress dowager on the occasions of their birthdays, the New Year, and the Winter Solstice. Emperors also sent such congratulatory memorials to the empress dowager.

Winter Solstice Congratulatory Memorial from the Regional Commander of Quemoy, Fukien to the Emperor

Manchu language Version of the K’ang-hsi Emperor’s Imperial Diaries

Chinese language Version of the K’ang-hsi Emperor’s Imperial Diaries

Chinese language Version of the Veritable Records of the Shun-chih Emperor (1659)

Manchu language Version of the Veritable Records of the Shun-chih Emperor (1646)

Ink Sketch of a Wrapper with Dragon Design for Mukden

In the Ch'ing dynasty, Veritable Records were written in three languages: Manchu, Chinese, and Mongolian. Five copies were made and stored in different locations. The one kept at Mukden, the original capital of the Manchus, would be wrapped in a specific wrapper as shown in this sketch.

Floor Plan of the Hsien-ts'an Altar

The Hsien-ts'an Altar was constructed in 1742 to worship the silkworm. It was the Empress who held ceremonies at this alter, and not the Emperor. Agriculture and weaving were considered the nation's economic foundation, and, thus, the Emperor held ceremonies related to agriculture, while the Empress held ceremonies related to weaving.

Routine Memorial (t’i-pên) A memorial from the Board of War, reporting the result of an investigation requested by the emperor

As in the Ming, central and local officials in the Ch'ing used the t'i-pen to submit reports concerning administrative activities. Attached at the end of most t'i-pen was a slip of paper, called t'ieh-huang, which summarized the contents. Each t'i-pen 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.

Routine Memorial (t’i-pên) A memorial from the Board of War, reporting the result of an investigation requested by the emperor

As in the Ming, central and local officials in the Ch'ing used the t'i-pen to submit reports concerning administrative activities. Attached at the end of most t'i-pen was a slip of paper, called t'ieh-huang, which summarized the contents. Each t'i-pen 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.

A Duplicate Copy of a Memorial (chieh-t'ieh) A duplicate copy of a memorial from the Governor-general of Chekiang (who was also the Governor of Chekiang) showing his gratitude to the Emperor

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) for examination.

Memorial (ch’i-pên) A memorial from the Provincial Governor of Honan reporting a rebel uprising

A Ch'i-pên is the same as a t'i- pên or tsou- pên in function and format. Memorials submitted to the regent Dorgon in the early Shun-chih period and to the An-yüen Ching-k’ou generals or the princes in charge of military forces in the Kang-hsi period were called ch'i- pên.

Report from the Tribal Chief, T'ien Hsüan

In the Ming dynasty, officials used hsiang-wên to report to their superiors. The composition of a hsiang report was complicated and could not bypass immediate superiors. Whenever a hsiang report was issued, a response had to be sent with instructions for the reporting officials to follow.

Tags (p’iao) Issued by the Board of War (Ping Pu) for the Delivery of Official Documents

In the Ch’ing dynasty, guards who delivered official documents through military posts required p’iao or tags issued by the Board of War. These tags were printed using wood blocks and were written in both Manchu and Chinese. They would be examined on a regular basis, and the inner or outer yamên would have to dispatch soldiers to escort the documents requested on the tag.

Written Plaintiff Petition from Hu Chieh

In Ch'ing legal cases, the plaintiff's written petition was called kao-chuang, whereas the defendant's written petition was termed su-chuang. Chuang is a shorter term used to refer to both kao-chuang and su-chuang.

The Small Golden Placard from the 1847 Civil Palace Examination

The ranking placard used after the palace examination was known as the "Golden Placard" and was produced in two sizes. The Small Golden Placard was a reduced-scale version of the Grand Golden Placard and was prepared specifically for imperial inspection. This particular Golden Placard documents the names, ranks, and places of birth of two hundred and thirty-one chin-shih, including Chang Chih-wan (winner of first place in the examinations that year). This placard also contains the names of Shen Kuei-fen (rank 8), Li Hung-chang (rank 36), Shen pao-chen (rank 39), Kuo Sung-t'ao (rank 60), examinees of the second category, and Ma Hsin-i (rank 6) and Chu Tz'u-ch'i (rank 114), examinees of the third category, all of whom were important figures in late Imperial China.

The Grand Golden Placard from the 1844 Military Palace Examination

A Grand Golden Placard was a board upon which the list of the names of the chin-shih was posted. After the ceremony during which the names of the chin-shih were announced, the Grand Golden Placard was hung on the East Ch'ang-an Gate for three days and then stored at the Grand Secretariat.

Roster of Successful Candidates from the 1760 Honan Provincial Examination

Written Record of the 1759 Chekiang Provincial Examination

Written Record of the 1851 Chekiang Provincial Examination

Written Record of the 1759 Yunnan Military Provincial Examination

The Palace Examination Papers Yin P’ei-shen, 136th Rank in the Third Category, 1802

The Palace Examination Papers Yu Tsung-fan, 3rd Rank in the Second Category, 1775

Vermilion Copy of the Metropolitan Examination Papers Wang Wei, 41st rank, 1685

Selection of answers from the 1702 Hupeh and Hunan Provincial Examination

The Black Version of the Metropolitan Examination Papers Wei Nan, section 3, 1685

The Black Version of the Metropolitan Examination Papers Chang Chen-E, section 2, 1685

Questions from the 1713 Military Metropolitan Examination Section 3

Questions from the 1763 Metropolitan Examination Section 3