Castration Classes at the Beijing Eunuch Culture Exhibition Hall

The first time I ever met The Professor, he told me about the eunuch museum. He didn’t say much. Just that there was one. In West Beijing.

“You really should go,” he said. “It’s… well, it’s interesting.” He adjusted his glasses the way a professor should, but he wouldn’t say more.

A few weeks later, I found myself staring through smudged plexiglas at the only remaining inhabitant of the Beijing Eunuch Culture Exhibition Hall. He was, of course, dead.

Covered by an imperial yellow sheet, this junkless monk apparently died of lead poisoning. 400 years later, he was dug up and stuck in a case. His name wasn’t recorded, but I doubt it was Tian Yi.

Tian Yi (田以) was the most famous Chinese eunuch that ever lived. He served a series of three Emperors, and carried his genitals in a jug. His 1605 funeral was insane: the government shut for days, hundreds of eunuchs attended, and he was buried like a king. And just like any other Chinese royal, his grave was robbed.

“I’m too scared,” said a Chinese teenage girl. “Can you come with me?”

She stood above a staircase leading into his gutted tomb, but it was too dark to go alone. She showed me her flashlight, and the light was weak. We went anyway. In the cold and damp room of brick, afterlife windows bled into darkness. Water dripped above us. And it was empty.

I’d read the tomb was robbed in 1911, a time of Chinese turmoil. But could this be true? The Ming Tombs weren’t robbed. They were destroyed in the cultural revolution. Everything inside was smashed, the Imperial bodies dragged outside, ripped apart and set ablaze. It was an orgy of destruction. Did the same thing happen here?

Upstairs from the tomb, what few relics survived sat in glass cases.

A rusty replica of a castration blade.

A pair of dusty dildos.

And this remarkable diorama.

Finally I knew how it worked. The string around the balls. The goose quill in the urethra. The lengths of rope holding down the victim of misery. And finally a disengaged sac and shaft, ceremoniously plopped in a jar.

So here’s a picture of a happy eunuch, instead.

Beijing Eunuch Culture Exhibition Hall / Tian Yi Tomb / 田以墓
010-8872-4148
Pingguoyuan subway, Line 1, then a short cab ride

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3 Responses to Castration Classes at the Beijing Eunuch Culture Exhibition Hall

  1. Pingback: On belonging to the Eunuch’s family. « Exilicchaplain's Blog

  2. pRiyA says:

    I never know where I am going to land up in Asia Obscura. From Mutton street in Mumbai to a castration class in Beijing. Oh God! Look at those rusty knives and the expression on that diorama face! I hope you unearth something similar for BangBang Bangalore.

    • Andy Deemer says:

      You never know where you’re going to end up in Beijing!!! We didn’t really expect this either. If work cools down a bit, it’s right back to BBB! But there are some fun posts upcoming about Mumbai and Delhi! :-)

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