Lifestyles of pampered pooches in China's Forbidden City revealed

A new book and exhibition about the Forbidden City tell the tale of privileged pup Big Luck

They are venerated as man’s best friend – but one Chinese dog led a life that would turn even the most pampered of pooches green with envy.

A newly published book tells the tale of Big Luck, who lived in China’s Forbidden City during the reign of the Guangxu Emperor (1875 – 1908), Live Science reported.

The one metre-long pup, whose breed and sex are unknown, was so special that it had its own silk gown, the authors of The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China' s Emperors have revealed.

The luxurious attire would have covered Big Luck from snout to tail and was decorated with images of peonies and an inscription of the dog’s name.

It is just one of the treasures on show at the Forbidden City exhibition at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, which the book is an accompaniment to.

The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace, which was home to 24 emperors for nearly 500 years between 1420 and 1911. Located in the centre of Beijing, it is now known as the Palace Museum and is a major tourist attraction.

Curator Chen Shen told Live Science that the silk outfit was a “surprise” find for him and his team during a trip to the Palace Museum to source artefacts for the exhibition.

More than 200 relics have been transported from the Forbidden City to North America, many of which have never before left the former imperial seat.

True to its name, the 980-building complex was off limits to the public and could only be accessed by the emperor, his immediate family, the royal women and thousands of castrated male servants known as eunuchs.

But canines held pride of place. "In the Forbidden City, royal dogs received royal treatment," Shen and co-author Wen-Chien Cheng, who is also a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum, write in their book.

"They reportedly lived in pavilions with marble floors, sleeping on silk cushions, tended by specialized eunuchs who worked for the Dog Raising Office," they write.

"Court ladies in particular entertained themselves by walking, playing with, and dressing up their dogs. Every year, dozens of luxurious dog outfits were commissioned, the pet's name carefully recorded on the lining."

However, Big Luck was one of the last of these privileged pooches. During the dog’s lifetime, the Qing Dynasty was falling into decline, its military was becoming weak in comparison to Western power, and China was experiencing civil unrest.

In 1900, Beijing was occupied by a foreign army and the Forbidden City was looted, before the last Chinese emperor fled in 1911.

But the doggy legacy didn’t quite die out. The authors write: "Many of the world's most popular lapdogs, such as the Pekinese jinghabagou and pug, originated in China.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk