The braiding in the photo used to be Dunluobu Rongyuan’s mansion, located at No. 37, Maoer hutong, South Luogu Lane, Dongcheng District. Dunluobu Rongyuan was a fourth-rank governmental official and father of the Empress Wanrong (1906-1946), China’s last empress. Wanrong was of the same age as Emperor Puyi. They never met with each other before marriage. Puyi selected her to be his wife from a pile of photos provided to him. Before their marriage, Puyi made frequent phone calls to Wanrong. He conferred Wanrong the title of empress in 1922 and promoted her father Rongyuan to be the grand minister of internal affairs and granted him the title of third-rank Chen’engong. So the Mansion of Dunluobu Rongyuan was also called Cheng’engong Mansion and the empress’s mansion. In my last Beijing Xian tour, my friend in Beijing took me there, because he knows that I’m interested in the history of late Qing Dynasty.
Wanrong’s ancestral home was in Nehe, Inner Mongolia. Her family was originally of Daur Nationality, and was later enlisted into the Plain White Banner group of Manchu nationality. Wanrong was born at the No.37, Maoer hutong in 1906. She had been living here until she entered into the imperial palace at 16. Her younger paternal half brother Dunbuluo Runqi was six years younger than her. Runqi married Yunying, Puyi’s younger sister, the third princess, so he became the late Qing’s Guojiu (emperor’s brother-in-law). Runqi is still alive. He is tall and strong; he always looks tidy. His grey hair is well combed. He can ride motocycles, operate computers and take photos with digital camera. In the past, people used to say that it was Reginald Johnston, Puyi’s British teacher, who introduced the first bicycle to Beijing. But that;s not the truth — it was Runqi who did that. What’s more, Runqi also egged Puyi to saw off all the doorsills from the Yangxin Palace to the imperial garden in order to ride the bicycle smoothly.
Runqi is now living in an apartment with three bedrooms and a living room in an ordinary civil building in Jintaili, Chaiwai Street. His wife Runying passed away years ago. Runqi is a member of the NPPCP. He had been a researcher in the Legal Institute of Chinese Academy of Social Science before retirement. He had medical background as he had studied medicine in Japan in his early years. He’s now running a traditional Chinese medicine clinic. He always recalls his childhood in the Maoer hutong. At that time, his father was open-minded and advocated for girl’s education; his elder sister was gentle and pretty and she knew English language. She always taught film to play the piano, painting and recite the Tang poems.
The Beijing travel was very impressive. And the next Xian tour was also full of fun, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Terra-Cotta Warriors, the Huaqing Pool etc, all these are very worthy visiting if you travel in Xian.