cypress refrigerator

This week, the topic of “cool” for the summery season, let’s start with “ice” today the temperature has been stuffy humid since last week of 13th June 2022 Week in Forbidden City Beijing – China – People’s Republic of China.

This week’s topic of “cool”, let’s start with “ice” today…..When it comes to “ice”, everyone may think of “ice cellar”, and “ice cellar” must be familiar to everyone. As the name suggests, it is a place to store ice. But there are a lot of particulars about taking ice, storing ice, and using ice: there is an item of “ice policy” as a norm in the Qing Dynasty’s “Da Qing Hui Dian” and “The Cases of the Imperial Qing Hui Dian”. It seems that wanting to cool down in summer is also a complicated process~

Round fan with peacock lacquer handle embroidered on white silk
Jiucheng summer vacation map

So let’s start with taking ice. Generally speaking, it is three days after the winter solstice every year. There is also a saying that in half a month, the ice cellar supervisor and the officials sent by the Ministry of Industry will worship the river god first, and then the director of the Ministry of Industry will worship the river god. One person leads the corvée or recruits civilian husbands to take ice from Tongzi River, Jinghe River (Yuhe) in the Forbidden City, Lotus Pond in Longwangtang, etc., and even go to Tongzhou River to take ice. Thinking that there were no modern means of transportation in ancient times, it is really a big project to go to Tongzhou to get ice.

Copper gold-plated tooth box boy fan

There is also a complete set of steps when taking ice: first, a dozen people form a team with equal spacing, and each person holds an ice plume. This ice plume is generally more than a foot long, with a handle and a four-edged long-pointed iron tool (the tools used for ice chiseling seem to be not simple). Generally, clear and thick ice cubes are selected, and everyone smashes against the ice surface repeatedly until a large crack is cracked. Then reverse the direction and repeat the same procedure to split the other three sides, so that you can get a large piece of ice.

Painted enamel flower and fruit bowl

And the ice cubes are not ready to be finished; there will be a very important process here: in order not to make the ice cubes stick to each other, the ice cubes will be separated by a clean straw. When these procedures are complete, the cellar door is sealed and the gaps are plugged with mud and straw. Why do you do that? Because the ice cellar will be closed until the beginning of summer, it is already a hot summer, so open the ice cellar, take out ice cubes for heatstroke prevention, and make all kinds of cool snacks. If the ice cellar is not sealed properly, there may be only one ice cellar in the end….

Copper Gold Plated Corner Food Container

After summer, the ice cubes taken out can be used to prevent heatstroke or make ice-cold snacks. The emperors and concubines of the Qing Dynasty also used refrigerators to cool off the heat and make “ice bowls”. The ice bowl is made of melon, fruit lotus root, lily, lotus seed, almond tofu, longan, raisin, fresh walnut and Chinese yam. Eating fruit lotus root can smooth the air, and eating green walnut can nourish the kidney. It is not only a cold drink, but also has a nourishing effect.

Pastel-like fruit high-footed plate
pastel like green porcelain fruit plate

The “refrigerator” mentioned above may not be the same as the refrigerator in our modern impression. It has two main functions: one is to store ice cubes in the box, put various summer fruits on the plate, and eat them after cooling. Another function is very cleverly designed. It uses the principle of endothermic refrigeration during the melting process of ice cubes to infiltrate the cold air into the room little by little through the small holes above the refrigerator to cool down. It can not only ice melons and fruits, but also can be used as an “air conditioner”, which is very convenient and interesting…

Imagines credits are of the Forbidden City –Imperial Palace –Beijing – China- People’s Republic of China also from the Series Weibo北京卫视上新了故宫 Treasures in the Forbidden City…

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