Abstract

This author will attempt to present a preliminary study of the economic aspects of the Imperial Household (Nei-wu-fu), which played a unique role during the Chʻing Dynasty in the grand strategy of the Manchu rule over China. The fact that this vital area of Chʻing history has long been neglected can be gauged from the lack of scholarly studies on the Nei-wu-fu up to the present. Even in the imperial days, few Chinese scholars knew about the actual workings of the Nei-wu-fu, for it remained a closed field to outsiders—almost a shrouded mystery. The reasons for its mysterious character were twofold: on the one hand, inaccessibility of sources of information prevented people from getting a clear picture of the Imperial Household; on the other hand, Chinese were inhibited from investigation, since to peer into the “secret affairs of the Court” (Kung-wei chin-shih) was to run a political risk.

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