- Museum number
Rubbing of a stele portrait of Wang Zhen王振 (c.1400-1449) from the ‘Monastery of Attained Wisdom’ (Zhihua si智化寺)
- Production date
- 2014 (rubbing of a stele dated 1443)
Height: 140 centimetres
Width: 63.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Wang Zhen was one of the earliest chief eunuchs to have benefited from a literary and administrative education in the ‘Palace School for Eunuchs’ (內書堂Nei shu tang), which was established in 1426. He was from Shanxi. He was voluntarily castrated so that he could enter the palace and teach palace ladies Confucian classics. He tutored Zhu Qizhen (1427-1464), the Zhengtong emperor (r. 1436-1449) when he was a child, and during the Zhengtong emperor’s reign Wang Zhen rose to power as a prominent advisor. In 1435, he was appointed Grand Director of Ceremonial – the highest eunuch position. However, the Dowager Empress Zhang wished to have him killed and warned her grandson against trusting him. After her death in 1442, his powers increased still further. In 1449, he actively encouraged the Zhengtong emperor to try to recreate the past glories of Yongle and Xuande eras and to personally lead his own troops against the Oirat Mongol armies. The expedition ended in the catastrophic debacle at Tumu Fort (less than sixty miles northwest of Beijing) in which many men, including Wang Zhen himself, lost their lives and the emperor was taken prisoner. This rubbing is from a stele with Wang Zhen’s portrait at the ‘Monastery of Attained Wisdom’ (Zhihua si智化寺) built in Beijing in 1443. The temple originally served as an ancestral hall for Wang's family and is now the best-preserved example of a Buddhist monastery from the early Ming period remaining in Beijing. It preserves the tradition of playing Ming music to this day.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2014 Sep-2015 Jan, BM WCEC, 'Ming: 50 years that changed China'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This acquisition came about as a result of research for the Ming 50 years that changed China exhibition.
- Registration number