Turn at the Forbidden City’s Gate of Heavenly Purity and follow the long corridor cut out by the high red walls, and you will reach Cining Palace, the inner chamber of the Palace of Heavenly Purity. Large pine and cypress trees stand in the wide courtyard. The light of the setting sun paints a heavy coat of colors on the tower above. The begonias and philodendrons by the stone steps seem to still carry the fragrance of times long past. Buildings left behind by history and objects used by the ancients pull me into a labyrinth of history. The tranquil, ancient atmosphere of the courtyard draws me into deep thought, as if the clock is turning backwards to the distant past.
A few round fans sit quietly in a glass case. Round fans are meticulously crafted with a slim, graceful shape and elegant lines. The spotted bamboo frame forms plump lines, with intricately carved jade buttons attached on top; under a few stray rays from the setting sun, the painstakingly painted birds and flowers still appear fresh and bright, drawing my thoughts to the blushing youth of the fan’s owner in old times: the joys and sorrows of her short life, a fleeting imaginary glimpse of her smile, and a sweet, low voice passing across time. The continuation of life, the endless progression of all things and a forever-sealed history have been mysteriously woven into the silk threads of these round fans.