The Imperial palace's collection of calligraphies and paintings had become most impressive during the Qianlong and Jiaqing periods. Under Qianlong's reign, the palace collection was catalogued according to three major principles.
The Pearl Forest of the Secret Hall (Midian zhulin)
For cataloging, all Buddhist and Daoist calligraphies and paintings in the imperial collections were placed under the Pearl Forest of the Secret Hall collection.
Stone Moat (Shiqu)
This collection originally referred to the works from the library of the Han dynasty imperial court.
The Precious Collection of the Stone Moat (Shiqu Baoji)
Finally, the Precious Collection of the Stone Moat listed all the non-religious works of calligraphies and paintings.
The catalogues became the richest sources of Chinese history, culture, and art. They depicted how the Qianlong emperor reinterpreted Chinese art based on understanding its foundations, whether they were religious or not and what imperial court they had been a part of. In turn, this manner of cataloging became key in understanding Qianlong emperor's taste in art.
However, in the late Qing dynasty and early republican period, a large number of rare works formerly housed in the Forbidden City were taken from the palace. At the time it was feared that they would be lost forever.
On 1st January 1912, the Republic of China was established. In 1925, the Palace Museum was opened. It became home to lost treasures of China's history. Rare works from the Qing imperial treasury are now part of the Palace Museum's public collection. Today, there are over a million rare works of art in the permanent collection of the Palace Museum.
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