The Forbidden City is located in the heart of Beijing/Peking. It has been the focus of authority in imperial China for over 6 centuries. A city within a city, its high red walls enclosed the centre of government, the imperial palace. Also enclosed within are huge lakes dotted with islands and pleasure-boats, workshops producing clothing, furniture and fittings and luxury items for the court and a zoo with horses, cats, elephants and, occasionally, a giraffe. For hundreds of years, thousands of eunuchs served their imperial masters within the Forbidden City, taking control of the flow of administrative documents and all the daily needs of emperors and women of the palace. This lively book introduces the colourful characters who inhabited the Forbidden City and vividly evokes the strictly prescribed rituals that made up life behind its walls. In the 16th and 17th centuries, a tiny number of foreign envoys, from the Persian Gulf and from Holland, described the discomforts of waiting for hours in the freezing cold to catch a glimpse of the Emperor in his yellow silk sedan chair but it was not until the very end of the 19th century that westerners managed to penetrate the Forbidden City. This book allows you to do just that, under the guidance of one of its most learned and enthusiastic admirers.