The history of Dongchang Hutong

Changwei members contended with the court officials. Besides more than a thousand of spies to monitor the subjects and the ordinary people, Dongchang also hired a number of rogues. They made up the biggest organization of spies in the Ming Dynasty. The rogues would report to the yizhang, who would pay the rogue by the importance of the news. This was called “buying an event”. In Ming Tianqi’s reign (1605-1627), Dongchang was beaded by the eunuch Wei Zhongxian (1568-1627), a native of Suning in Hejian (today’s Hebei Province). Wei was a local rogue. He had been addicted to alcohol and group gambling since a youngster. Later on. he studied cooking and castrated himself to become a eunuch. He won Emperor Xizong’s favor with outstanding cooking skills.

More thml ten thousand people worked for the Dongchang when it was at its prime. Wei Zhongxian claimed to be the “Jiuqiansui” (nine thousand years old), second only to the emperor, who was addressed by the court officials as “wansui” (ten thousand years old). His power was overwhelming. Wei’s memorial temples were built everywhere when he was still alive. In these temples were displayed his images made of gold or eaglewood His eunuch groups put the Dongchang under firm control. The excruciations of Dongchang was notorious, covering spine breaking,

heart stabbing, finger chopping, ears piercing with iron nails, red embroidery shoes (iron shoes burning with heat), bronze horn (fill boiling oil into the anus), squeezing for blood, lute punishment(a kind of body multilating), and another torture in which hot pitch was applied to the criminal’s all over body to peel off the skin. In 1623,the third Tianqi Year, Wei Zhongxian forged a decree attempting to murder the Empress Zhang, but in vain. But he did kill some other emperor’s concubines later.