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The Dowager Empress Cixi
(1835-1908) ‘Ruling from behind the yellow silk screen’
12th April 2022
Presented by David Rosier


This lecture seeks to provide a balanced insight into the life and achievements of one of the most important women in Chinese Imperial history.

From relative obscurity as a low-ranking consort we explore the events that led to her confirmation as Dowager Empress Cixi in 1861 and her strategy to preserve, then revitalise, imperial rule after a series of humiliating military defeats by Western Colonial Powers plus several brutal ethnic uprisings.

We will trace the distinct cycles of Cixi’s power, as Emperors came and went, whilst the Dowager Empress moved periodically from a position of influence to full authority and then into times of enforced retirement.

Looking beyond Cixi’s desire to force China into the modern world we will gain an insight into her life within her beloved Summer Palace with a focus on her passion for painting, embroidery, fashion design and the extensive gardens. A location where Cixi forged some extraordinarily close relationships with leading western women. 

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Profile – David Rosier

A Chartered Insurer by profession and a Fellow of the Assurance Medical Society, with extensive international experience as an author and lecturer in Medical Risk Assessment. He has in excess of 25 years of working and living in Asia. Whilst living in Hong Kong (1991-2004) he assembled a collection of approximately 700, predominately Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Imperial and related textiles/costume accessories. Past Committee Member of the Hong Kong Textile Society and frequent speaker on Imperial Insignia and Badges of Rank.

David can organise and lead Imperial Art Tours to China for Societies. In late 2019 the Collection of Imperial Court Costume was acquired, in its entirety, by The Shanghai Musuem, Peoples' Republic of China to be displayed in a the new annexe of the museum opening in 2021.