Story of Yanxi Palace

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Story of Yanxi Palace
MandarinYán Xǐ Gōng Lüè
GenreHistorical fiction
Based onYan Xi Gong Lüe by Zhou Mo
Written byZhou Mo
Directed byHui Kaidong
Wen Deguang
StarringWu Jinyan
Charmaine Sheh
Qin Lan
Nie Yuan
Xu Kai
Opening themeLook (看) by Yu Zheng
Ending themeSighs of the Palace Walls (红墙叹) by Hu Xia
"The Sound of Snow Falling (雪落下的声音)" by Lu Hu
"Forgetting About Each Other (相忘)" by Su Qing
"Willows of the Palace (宫墙柳)" by Li Chunai
Country of originChina
Original language(s)Mandarin
No. of episodes70
Executive producer(s)Yu Zheng
Production location(s)Hengdian World Studios
Running time45 mins
Production company(s)Huanyu Film
Original networkiQiyi
Original releaseJuly 7 (2018-19-07) –
August 26, 2018 (2018-08-26)
Related showsThe Legend of Haolan (2019)

Story of Yanxi Palace (Chinese: 延禧攻略) is a Chinese period drama series created by Yu Zheng. It is an original screenplay written by Zhou Mo, and later developed into a novel by Xiao Lian Mao. Starring Wu Jinyan, Charmaine Sheh, Qin Lan, Nie Yuan and Xu Kai, the series premiered on iQiyi from July 19, 2018 to August 26, 2018, during which time it was streamed more than 15 billion times.[1][2] State television channels pulled out the TV series in 2018 because there was a magazine article that criticised the TV show.[3]

Distributed in more than 70 markets worldwide, Story of Yanxi Palace has since become a huge hit, especially in Asia. It has been named the world's most Googled TV show in 2018. [4][5][6]


In 18th century Beijing (18 March 1741), a young firecracker by the name of Wei Yingluo enters the court of the Qianlong Emperor, Aisin Gioro Hongli, as one of the palace embroiderers to secretly investigate her beloved sister's mysterious death and find the truth. At first believing the imperial guard Fuca Fuheng to be the prime suspect, Yingluo schemes to approach his sister, the Empress Fuca Rongyin, and succeeds in getting transferred from her embroidery unit to the Empress's Changchun Palace as her maid. Over time, she learns that the Fuca siblings are honest and kindhearted people, innocent of the crime, and even develops romantic affections for Fuheng, who is admired by many around the Palace, including Qianlong's Consort Chun who allies herself to Empress Fuca because of a deep-seated crush on her brother.

Though Yingluo is not noble by birth and is illiterate, the kindhearted Empress Fuca teaches her how to read and write, along with all the proper etiquette and mannerisms for noblewomen at the time. Yingluo also helps Empress Fuca survive a series of maneuvers by her chief rivals, becoming a trusted friend and confidant while never forgetting her own agenda of avenging her sister's murder. In time, Yingluo discovers that the actual murderer is a Consort of the late Emperor Yongzheng and mother of Qianlong's half brother, and hatches a plot to drive the culprit to her untimely death. Empress Fuca, for fear of Qianlong's fury over Yingluo's outrageous action, quickly banishes her to the palace sanitation unit to escape from his decree of punishment. There, Yingluo befriends and becomes sworn brothers with a handsome but conniving eunuch, Yuan Chunwang, who is subsequently revealed to be a bastard son of Emperor Yongzheng.

Without Yingluo, Empress Fuca falls victim to the machinations of Noble Consort Gao that puts her in a coma. News reaches Yingluo who hurriedly steals midnight visits into Empress Fuca's chamber to sit by her mistress's side and care for her. Yingluo's devotion to Empress Fuca convinces Qianlong to relent on his tough stance towards her and eventually allows her to return as maid. Empress Fuca is able to wake from her coma, and even becomes pregnant again. She goes through almost life-ending labor to give birth to another son, who is immediately the target of assassination by the duplicitous Consort Chun, devastated for having been rejected by Fuheng. Empress Fuca is driven to suicide when she is not able to save her newborn in a bizarre fire that rose overnight. After Empress Fuca's death, Yingluo is sent to live and guard over her mistress's grave at the Old Summer Palace. She stays there for a number of years with Yuan Chunwang until one year (1750), during an imperial visit by Qianlong and his consorts to Fuca's grave, Yingluo unexpectedly learns that Consort Chun was responsible for her late mistress's suicide. She decides once again to enter the Forbidden City and exact retribution on the evildoers.

In order to achieve the goal, Yingluo knows she needs the hand of authority so she soon sets her eyes on the Emperor. She skillfully charms Qianlong, becoming part of his harem, and is bestowed a title, Consort Ling. With meticulous planning, she topples her rivals one after another, including the villainess, now Noble Consort Chun, even insofar as exposing her role in Empress Fuca's death, which incidentally leads to her fall from grace at the hands of Yingluo's archrival, the newly-named Empress Hoifa-Nara (1751). Yingluo's captivation of Qianlong brings her numerous threats, such as from newcomer Concubine Shun, a beautiful and cunning woman dead set to even the score with Qianlong and Fuheng for having been forced into political marriage in the Forbidden City. Framing Yingluo for attempted assassination, Concubine Shun deftly teams up with Empress Hoifa-Nara to put Yingluo under house arrest and pull strings to starve her nearly to death. Nevertheless, Yingluo is able to reverse her situation, reveal Shun's treachery, and restore Qianlong's affections for her. Having reached stalemate at this point, Yingluo negotiates for a truce with Hoifa-Nara on the condition that they both not harm any children of the palace in spite of the rivalry.

A decade later (1765), however, the nihilistic Yuan Chunwang betrays Yingluo and joins Hoifa-Nara, causing a series of mishaps in the palace that even force the Empress's hand and break her hold on power. Hongzhou, the Emperor's brother, at the same time plots to sabotage Qianlong's Southern river tour. On a chosen night, a band of rebels suddenly storms onto the royal vessel just as a fire engulfs the Empress Dowager's cabin, prompting Qianlong to charge into the flaming cabin to save his mother, seemingly perishing himself in the process.

The next morning, as Hongzhou gallantly appears to restore order from the overnight coup, Qianlong and the Empress Dowager emerge safely from a secret passageway that had been purposely designed by Fuheng and expose Hongzhou's plan of treachery. After Qianlong sentences Hongzhou to death, Yuan Chunwang gets on his knees in front of the Emperor and claims he is a long-lost son of the Yongzheng Emperor. The Empress Dowager denies this, ever so slyly, which drives Yuan Chunwang into utter madness while leaving others unable to determine whether or not it is to protect Qianlong. At this time, Consort Ling comes out of hiding under the protection of the Emperor's guards, prompting Hoifa-Nara to protest once and for all the Emperor's lavished attention for Yingluo alone. In a fit of rage and jealousy, she cuts off her own hair, a taboo in Manchu tradition analogous to an outcry for divorce, effectively cursing the entire Aisin Gioro clan.

At the end, Empress Hoifa-Nara is permitted to keep her title, but loses all of the Emperor's affections. Wei Yingluo is elevated to a new title, 'Imperial Noble Consort', the highest possible rank for someone of non-noble birth. Remembering Empress Fuca's teachings, she embodies all the qualities of a virtuous consort, and supports the Emperor until death.[7]



Actor Character Introduction
Wu Jinyan Wei Yingluo, Consort Ling (令) Our protagonist, an antiheroine, someone ahead of her time in terms of knowledge and reasoning, who takes advantage of her innate skills to rise above the tangles of conventional palace rivalries for nobler causes and, as a result, is able to win the power game against the big bosses on the road. She is the female version of the Monkey King who learns through trial and error the meaning of the journey, acquiring wisdom in her position next to the Emperor ultimately.
Charmaine Sheh Hoifa-Nara Shushen, Consort Xian (娴) Antithesis to the protagonist in character development, she is the angel turned Lucifer in the course of playing 'survival of the fittest' in the palace. Equally adept and intelligent as the protagonist, she exemplifies the woman who loses her head to her heart, and thus loses everything else at the end. She is a tragic heroine.
Qin Lan Fuca Rongyin, Empress Xiaoxianchun The First Empress of Emperor Qianlong. Kind, amiable, virtuous, she is the 'ideal woman' of Chinese classical traditions. Yet, she is also a woman caught in the wrong place and time, unwilling to be subjugated by her position. Her downfall is the means by which she escapes the burden of responsibility as queen and wife to the Emperor. She represents the fragility of virtue, short on requisite hardheadedness, in facing power's brutal adversaries. She is another tragic figure.
Nie Yuan Emperor Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty. He is at once the symbol and victim of a feudal system of rigidly held power positions condemning him to be fully himself. Outwardly aloof and dispassionate, he derives his pleasures from belittling those under him, from his servants to his women, often with such biting criticisms that lead his brother, Hongzhou, to describe him as “the most heartless man under the sky.” He will be suitably challenged since nature abhors a vacuum.
Xu Kai Fuca Fuheng[8] Leader of the imperial guards, younger brother of Empress Xiaoxianchun. He is a foil for the Emperor, since he is a rather free man without the hamper of pomp and circumstance. In this way, he can be truer himself in love and life, and he maximizes the privilege by being upfront and forward in his feelings, without the hesitation and unease that clouds every step taken by his more powerful superior.
Tan Zhuo Gao Ningxin[9] Noble Consort of Emperor Qianlong. Her palace strategy can be summed up as "the best defense is a strong offense." With an air of indifference, she walks and talks meaner than a viper, and for those who think lightly of her, cruelty is her specialty. Yet, for all that they know, she is but a lonesome, abandoned child who lives to forget her life by getting on stage as a theater star.


Qianlong's Harem[edit]

Actor Character Introduction
Wang Yuanke Su Jinghao, Consort Chun (纯)[10] Consort of Emperor Qianlong. She is initially distant from palace strife and intrigue and was a lackey of Empress Xiaoxianchun. However, it’s later revealed she was in love with Fuca Fuheng. Thus, becoming a scorned woman, she becomes ruthless on her quest for the Emperor’s affections and power struggle to ensure her son becomes favored.
Jenny Zhang Niohuru Chenbi, Concubine Shun (顺)[11] Gifted to Emperor Qianlong as a diplomatic gesture by a Qing vassal state. She has the face of pure innocence, and the heart of a shrew.
Lian Lian Keliyete Ayan, Consort Yu (愉)[12] Gave birth to Qianlong's fifth son. Timid and cowardly, she remains reticent about her abuse until Yingluo comes to her protection. In time, she learns to be quite a machiavellian.
Xu Baihui Noble Lady / Imperial Concubine Yi (怡) Friend to Consort Yu. An early victim of Noble Consort Gao.
Pan Shiqi Imperial Concubine / Noble Lady Jia (嘉) Underling of Noble Consort Gao and mother of 4th Prince. To survive, she does Gao's dirty work and is there to take the fall for her. Her younger sister later enters the harem with a strong distaste for Yingluo.
Li Chun'ai Nalan Chunxue, Noble Lady Shu (舒)[13] One of those who will be handled by Yingluo, to the point of becoming comic relief.
Li Ruoning Lu Wanwan, Female Attendant Qing (庆)[14] Quiet but self-assured, she is a little person who can effect big changes.
Fu Xiaoyu Socoro Yuli, Consort Rui (瑞)
Wang Xinhui Consort Wan (婉)
Liu Lu Consort Ying (颖)

Female servants[edit]

Actor Character Introduction
Su Qing Hitara Erqing[15] First maid to Empress Fuca. An opportunist who will not let a little thing called morals get in the way of ambition.
Jiang Zixin Mingyu[16] Second maid to Empress Fuca. Outspoken but dim, she is loyal to Empress Fuca unreservedly, and later becomes Yingluo's reliable friend and co-conspirator.
Zhang Yixi (张译兮) Jixiang Yingluo's first friend in the embroidery unit. Got tricked by Linglong and met her death.
Gao Yu'er Jinxiu Jealous hater of Yingluo at the embroidery unit.
Chen Ruoxi Linglong Another hater of Yingluo at the embroidery unit.
He Jiayi Supervisor Zhang Head of the embroidery unit and Yingluo's palace mentor at the beginning.
Zhang Tingting Supervisor Liu Head of the crew at the palace sanitation unit. Pawn of the consorts in the schemes against Yingluo.
Yin Xu Fang Nizi Second head of the embroidery unit and part of the Yingluo hater club.
Fang Anna Zhen'er Maid of Empress Hoifa-Nara, and becomes her lacky and partner in crime. She is loyal to Empress Hoifa-Nara.
Ren Wanjing Fangcao Maid of Consort Yu.
Qian Chenjie Ah'Shuang
Shi Yufei Zhilan[17] Maid of Noble Consort Gao.
Chen Mo Yuhu Maid of Noble Consort Chun.
Deng Sha Wei Yingning Yingluo's deceased sister.
Yang Jingru Hupo Staff at Empress Fuca's Changchun House. Another pawn in the consorts' schemes.
Zhang Tianyun Zhenzhu Staff at Empress Fuca's Changchun House. Later becomes a maid for Yingluo and remain extremely loyal to her.
An An Manao
Zhao Mengjie Feicui
Gao Rui Bailing
Zhang Jie Yizhu

Male servants[edit]

Actor Character Introduction
Liu Enshang Li Yu Head eunuch and loyal servant of Emperor Qianlong. He can read his master by his countenance and does not mind being the butt (literally) of his aggression.
Lawrence Wong Hailancha[18] Imperial guard and friend of Fuca Fuheng. Falls in love with Mingyu.
Wang Maolei Yuan Chunwang Mysterious person with a wicked mind. He believes that he and Yingluo are two of a kind, and will do whatever it takes to make her see it his way, whether or not she wants to.
Li Peng Zhang
Tan Xuqi Qijia Qingxi
Zheng Long Xiao Quanzi The little thief who has proven his worth to Yingluo at the end.
Sun Di Wu Shulai Eunuch supervisor of the inner courts. Rival of Yuan Chunwang.
Chang Cheng Desheng Junior eunuch and assistant to Li Yu.

Imperial Family[edit]

Actor Character Introduction
Wang Huichun Yongzheng Emperor
Ma Chunyan Empress Xiaojingxian
Song Chunli Empress Dowager Chong Qing Surrogate mother of Emperor Qianlong and a woman with some secrets of her own. Prizes a stable empire above all and will actively pursue a stable harem for her son.
Fang Yangfei Yongcheng, Prince Lü Fourth son of Emperor Qianlong, from Noble Lady Jia. Surrogate son of Empress Hoifa-Nara.
Chen Youwei Yongqi, Prince Rong Fifth son of Emperor Qianlong, from Consort Yu. Surrogate son of Yingluo when she becomes Consort Ling.
Zhou Yicheng Yongcong, Prince Zhe (哲) Seventh son of Emperor Qianglong, from Empress Xiaoxianchun, he dies as a young age. When he was born, he was highly favored and loved.
Tang Jiatong Jiaqing Emperor
Wang Herun Princess Zhaohua
Bai Shan Consort Yu (裕) Consort of the Yongzheng Emperor and mother of Hongzhou. Willing to commit all kinds of evil to protect her son.
Hong Yao Hongzhou, Prince He[19] Brother of Emperor Qianlong. Puts on an apathetic, foolhardy demeanor to conceal his ambition and lifelong disappointment of being second to Qianlong.
Cheng Junwen Hongxiao, Prince Yi Cousin of Emperor Qianlong. Collaborates with Noble Consort Gao against Yingluo.
Gong Fangmin Yuntao, Prince Lü


Many of the film props and costumes use as centerpieces exquisitely made articles from traditional Chinese crafts that are dying out with few master-level experts remaining to pass on their skills to the next generation. The acquisition of these skills requires a lifetime commitment to perfect, since they are unsurprisingly labor-intensive, demanding a sharp eye and tireless hands in order to replicate in painstaking detail the exclusive nature of their beauty.

Velvet flowers (ronghua)[edit]

The velvet flower headwear used by the main characters was designed based on historical documents or antiques housed in the Palace Museum. Each adornment is created according to the characteristics of individual palace women. Zhao Shuxian, one of the few craftsmen still making velvet flowers, created all the headwear in the show using the art of making velvet flower (ronghua).[20] This technique dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and refers to the creation of not only floral displays, but also animal shapes made by silk on a twisted wire frame.[21]

Jeweled hairpins (tian-tsui)[edit]

Worn by the Empress and Consorts as status symbols of opulence, these are hairpins of a particular vibrant blue hue, made from the preserved feathers of the wings and back of the kingfisher bird.[22] The technique resembles cloisonné, and when inlaid with pearls and other gemstones, are especially eye-catching the way a peacock dazzles fanning its tail.

The success of the drama is due in no small part to the contributions of numerous artisans and craftspeople behind the scenes that lend to the authenticity of Qing era fashion and style visible in every frame.[23]


The series has generated buzz online for its engaging plot of a "Cinderella" tale with Chinese characteristics.[24][25] It set the single-day online viewership record in China with a total of 530 million views, and has attracted a cumulative over 13 billion views since August 2018.[26] The drama is the most viewed Chinese language drama of 2018.[4] The drama was also the most Googled show on earth in 2018. [27]

Many viewers praised the story, because unlike the usual amicable heroines, the main character Wei Yingluo fights fire with fire and outmaneuvers her opponents.[21] It also received praise for its well-developed cast of characters and exciting interpretation by the actors; beautiful cinematography and intricate costume design; as well as its accurate portrayal of history and Qing-dynasty settings.[28][29] Owing to its success, there has been an increased number of visitors to the Palace Museum in Beijing, which is where all the main characters in the show used to live in times gone by.[30]

In August 2018 and September 2018 Story of Yanxi Palace achieved the first place in the global popularity ranking of the films.[31]


There was uproar in China after a Vietnamese website managed to acquire episodes not yet shown in China and asked visitors to the website to answer questions confirming their Vietnamese identity before the website loads. “This service is for Vietnamese people only. Please answer the following questions: To which country do the Hoang Sa (Paracel Islands) belong? Vietnam, China, Philippines or Japan?”. The only correct answer to the question, according to the website, is Vietnam. The islands are disputed territory. Copies of the episodes were later removed from the platform. [32]


1."Look (看)" (Opening theme song)Yu Zheng, Lu HuLu HuLu Hu 
2."Sighs of the Palace Walls (红墙叹)" (Ending theme song)Wang YaoguangWen KuiHu Xia 
3."The Sound of Snow Falling (雪落下的声音)" (Ending theme song)Yu Zheng, Lu HuLu HuLu Hu 
4."Forgetting About Each Other (相忘)" (Ending theme song)Wang XiaoqianYang ChengyinSu Qing 
5."Willows of the Palace (宫墙柳)"Yu ZhengTan XuanLi Chunai 

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
5th Hengdian Film and TV Festival of China Best Television Series Story of Yanxi Palace Won [33]
24th Huading Awards Best Actress (Ancient Drama) Wu Jinyan Won [34]
Best Supporting Actress Charmaine Sheh Nominated
Qin Lan Nominated
Golden Bud - The Third Network Film And Television Festival Most Influential Web Series Story of Yanxi Palace Won [35]
Influence of Recreational Responsibilities Awards Web Drama of the Yea Won [36]

International broadcast[edit]

Region Network Dates Notes
 Hong Kong
 Macau Singapore Malaysia Australia United States and Worldwide
TVB Jade 06 August - 06 October (Monday-Friday at 8:30pm)
(Two Episode Back To Back for Saturday & Sunday) at 8:30pm.
Dubbed With Cantonese, August 26 and September 22 Was Not Air. TVB Jade will air at 8.00pm. on 1 October
 Malaysia Astro AOD
 Indonesia fmn Coming Soon Original Language with Subtitles
Vietnam Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Television 9 August - Present (Monday-Friday at 5:00pm) Dubbed With Vietnamese
 Singapore Hub VV Drama 20 September - (Weekdays 9:00pm) Original Language
Mediacorp Channel U 8 March - 13 June (Weekdays 10:00pm) Original Language
 Canada Fairchild TV 2 HD (FTV2HD) 06 August - Present (Monday-Friday)
Vancouver (West) 4:30pm, 8:30pm
Toronto (East) 7:30pm, 11:30pm
Dubbed with Cantonese (TVB Version)
 Philippines GMA Network Coming Soon To be dubbed In Tagalog
 India Colors Coming Soon Dubbed Hindi
Star Vijay Dubbed Tamil
Asianet Dubbed Malayalam
Star Maa Dubbed Telugu
Colors Bangla Dubbed Bengali
 United States CTI America From 3 September, 2018 - (Weekdays) At 7:00 PM (PT)
Repeat at Next Day 3:00 PM (PT)
Original Language
 Cambodia PPCTV Drama 10 10 March 2019 (Monday-Sunday) 11:30am & 19:30pm Dubbed khmer
 Malaysia 8TV 16 September 2019 - Present (Monday-Friday at 7:00pm) Original Language with Subtitles


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  3. ^ Illmer, Andreas (8 February 2019). "Why China turned against a blockbuster drama". BBC. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  4. ^ a b "iQIYI Expands Global Footprint with Extensive International Distribution of Historical Costume Drama "Story of Yanxi Palace"". PR Newswire. iQiyi Inc. August 10, 2018.
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  6. ^ CNN, Eduardo Baptista. "Will China's hit drama 'Yanxi Palace' face censorship?". CNN. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
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  9. ^ "谭卓《延禧攻略》首尝清宫戏传奇贵妃引期待". Ynet (in Chinese). October 9, 2017.
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  12. ^ "《延禧攻略》将播 愉妃练练尽显端庄娴雅气场十足". Sina (in Chinese). November 3, 2017.
  13. ^ "李春嫒《延禧攻略》"色诱"聂远上演蠢萌反派". Netease (in Chinese). July 26, 2018.
  14. ^ "《延禧攻略》李若宁化身大家闺秀 展温婉之气". Sina (in Chinese). August 29, 2017.
  15. ^ "苏青《延禧攻略》上线 变身古代高级人才玩转后宫". Netease (in Chinese). July 20, 2018.
  16. ^ "姜梓新加盟《延禧攻略》 PK两万人获于正钦点". Netease (in Chinese). June 15, 2017.
  17. ^ "施予斐加盟《延禧攻略》 精致侧颜尽展双面性格". Tencent (in Chinese). July 11, 2018.
  18. ^ "王冠逸《延禧攻略》发布会大胆表白发糖". Netease (in Chinese). July 16, 2018.
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  20. ^ "Meet the Chinese artisan fighting to keep his silky skills alive". South China Morning Post. 2017-12-23. Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  21. ^ a b "Velvet flower headwear in hit online drama turns heads". China Daily. August 13, 2018.
  22. ^ "How authentic are the accessories worn in 'Story of Yanxi Palace'?". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2019-01-09.
  23. ^ Hanfugirl (2018-08-21). "Qing dynasty show styling–The good, the bad and the ugly (Make-up & Accessories episode)". #Hanfugirl. Retrieved 2019-01-09.
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  30. ^ "Come rain or shine". The Global Times. August 12, 2018.
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  33. ^ ""文荣奖"奖项出炉 陈思诚刘涛获最佳男女主角". Netease (in Chinese). October 22, 2018.
  34. ^ "华鼎奖提名公布 《和平饭店》《归去来》闪耀榜单". Netease (in Chinese). October 22, 2018.
  35. ^ "罗晋戚薇获封年度品质男女演员 宋祖儿谈大学生活". Netease (in Chinese). January 13, 2019.
  36. ^ "2019文娱责任影响力获奖名单出炉". Sina (in Chinese). March 28, 2019.

External links[edit]