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The Fascinating Life of a Chinese Eunuch in the Forbidden City

August 5, 2020 - General
Shadow of a eunuch in the Forbidden City of China

The Inner Court of China’s Forbidden City was the emperor’s private realm, where no other men were allowed to linger for too long. Officials, military personnel, and even male relatives of the emperor were required to leave the Inner Court at night. The only men who were allowed to stay in the Inner Court were those who had been rendered sexually impotent through castration. These were the eunuchs of China.

The Reasons Behind Castration in Ancient China

While the Forbidden City was only built during the Ming Dynasty in the 15th century, the practice of castration and the use of eunuchs in China can be traced much further back. In ancient China (up until the Sui Dynasty), castration was one of the Five Punishments, a series for physical punishments meted out by the Chinese penal system.

Nevertheless, castration was also a means of getting a job in the Imperial service. Since the Han Dynasty, eunuchs ran the day to day affairs of the Imperial court. As their duties brought them in close contact with the emperor, eunuchs had the potential to exert a considerable amount of influence on the emperor as well as amass an immense amount of political power.

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Source: origins

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