Posts Tagged ‘beijing’

First Stop: Beijing – The Imperial Palace

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Victoria Cass, Professor of Chinese StudiesVictoria Cass is a professor and author with special expertise in traditional Chinese culture. She has taught Mandarin and Classical Chinese language, as well as Chinese literature, at Johns Hopkins University, the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Minnesota; and the University of Colorado, Boulder.

She is currently in the field, leading our Classic China and Tibet tour. Read her post below detailing the group’s first stop: The Imperial Palace in Beijing.


The afternoon was brilliant—the gusting winds from the day before had cleared the air, making the immense spaces of the courtyards feel, if possible, more vast than what I remembered. I could easily imagine how exposed and how diminished some ambassador would have felt making that long center walk down the length of the vast reception grounds, tracking dead center to the red beamed halls that wait at the end of each of space. But we moved along the side pavilions, following the red bannisters that line the side buildings, looking down into the gigantic courtyards. We wanted to make sure we had leisure to enjoy what the Qian Long Emperor had enjoyed—the scholar’s garden in the very back of the royal compound. We were working our way back to his living quarters, through the chain of side passageways. We were essentially by ourselves, as we hugged the tall sides of the buildings, and I felt less like a tourist, and more—in the privacy of these side spaces—like a messenger. We entered the garden in the living quarters of the fourth Qing Emperor, and the sense of vastness and formality of the front grounds and grand halls vanished, as had the crowds. We entered through a simple small open gate, coming face to face with the pock-marked strange stones (guai shi) and weathered tree-trunks. Small pavilions were laid out as if in monastic retreat, and the small benches and low smooth stones made it easy to sit for a bit and sense the intimacy of the garden. The late afternoon sun felt lovely on our backs, and the trees caught the sounds of the remaining Beijing winds.

Dragon symbol at the Imperial Palace in Beijing

Image courtesy of Flickr user Mal B.

Learn more about future trips to China and Tibet.

Body of General Cao Cao discovered 1,700 years after death

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

China’s Yangtze River

Chinese general and Han Dynasty Chancellor Cao Cao was buried in central China after his death in CE 220. His tomb in China’s Henan province was first excavated in late 2008, and archeologists have since unearthed more than 250 artifacts. After following a passage of more than 100 feet, workers recently came upon the underground chamber where Cao Cao was buried with his wife and a younger woman, possibly a servant. Cao Cao fathered 25 sons and was also a celebrated poet and author, but had a reputation as a cruel and merciless tyrant. Whatever the case, click here for more on his very eventful life.

If you’re a teenager thinking about what to do next summer (or looking for something for your teenagers to do), consider your own eventful trip to China for our High School Study Abroad program. Here’s your chance to learn a bit of Chinese, hang out with some Chinese teenagers, go to the Great Wall, see the Terra Cotta Warriors, and even do some volunteer work in Beijing.

If you were an archeologist, what would you want to unearth?