The Formative Years of Cao Xueqin 1715–1745
4. “The Embroidered Jackets Raid”
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“The Embroidered Jackets Raid”
At approximately 8 in the evening of December 30, 1722, when Cao Xueqin was seven years old, an event occurred in a restored garden and palace to the northwest of Beijing named Changchun yuan (Garden of Delightful Spring) which would soon have direct and long-term consequences for the Cao family: the death of the Emperor Kangxi. The last years of Kangxi’s life had been sadly consumed with the problem of who would succeed him as emperor for he had 35 sons, 20 of whom grew to maturity. Traditionally, according to Manchu practices, the title of heir apparent was not automatically conferred on a ruler’s eldest son. Instead, after he died leading nobles and his close relatives held a special conclave to select a qualified candidate to be the next leader from a pool of the emperor’s sons and close kin.
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