The Dragon Throne (simplified Chinese :龙椅; traditional Chinese :龍椅; pinyin :lóng yǐ) is the throne of the Emperor of China. As the dragon was the emblem of divine imperial power, the throne of the Emperor, who was considered a living god, was known as the Dragon Throne. The term can refer to very specific seating, as in the special seating in various structures in the Forbidden City of Beijing or in the palaces of the Old Summer Palace. Metonymically, "the Dragon Throne" can also refer to the head of state and to the monarchy itself. The Daoguang Emperor is said to have referred to his throne as "the divine utensil."
The dragon was the symbol on the imperial flag and other imperial objects, including the throne or imperial utensil.The dragon was said to have the power to become visible or invisible—in short, the dragon was a factotum in the "divinity business" of the Chinese emperors. The dragon was the crest on royal monuments. The dragon was displayed on the Emperor's robes. The Grand Chair of State was called the "Dragon Throne."
The term can be used to refer to a very specific Seat of State in the "Hall of Supreme Harmony" (also known as the "Hall of Highest Peace"). This is a uniquely crafted object which was used only by the Emperor.
When European and American military forces pushed their way into the Peking after the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, they were the first men from the West to appear in the presence of the Dragon Throne since Isaac Titsingh and Andreas Everardus van Braam Houckgeest were received with grace and ceremony by the Qianlong Emperor in 1795.William Elliot Griffis was among those who did actually stand with cameras and notebooks before the Dragon Throne on a sunny September day in 1900; and he described what he saw:
In Imperial China, the seat of power was called the Dragon's Seat or the Dragon Throne.The process of accession, the ceremonies of enthronement and the act being seated on the Dragon's Throne were roughly interchangeable.
The Dragon Throne was an hereditary monarchy in China before 1912. In much the same sense as the British Crown, the Dragon Throne became an abstract metonymic concept which represented the monarch and the legal authority for the existence of the government.
According to tradition, the Chinese Empire began with the Qin dynasty in 221 BC; and the chronology of the emperors continued in unbroken succession until the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1912.
For a short time in 1917, to whatever extent the Chinese emperor was held to be as symbol of the state and its people, the Dragon Throne would have been construed as a symbol of a constitutional monarch.
This flexible English term is also a rhetorical trope. Depending on context, the Dragon Throne can be construed as a metonymy, which is a rhetorical device for an allusion relying on proximity or correspondence, as for example referring to actions of the Emperor or as "actions of the Dragon Throne."
The Dragon Throne is also understood as a synecdoche, which is related to metonymy and metaphor in suggesting a play on words by identifying a closely related conceptualization, e.g.,
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