Golden Lists of the Qing Dynasty Imperial Examination

"For more than a thousand years, appointment as an official in the Chinese Imperial Civil Service required the applicant to pass a series of public examinations. The examinations, open to almost all men, were organized at levels of District, Provincial, Metropolitan, and the final examination was held in the Imperial Palace. Complex rules were in place to eliminate cheating and corruption. These examinations were demanding and only a tiny percentage of candidates were successful. Successful candidates at the Palace Examination were presented to the Emperor and had the title Jin Shi (""Presented Scholar"") in consequence. When the British started to study China, they were extremely impressed by this public examination system. When they introduced public examinations in Britain for appointment to the national and colonial civil services, they were explicitly modelled on the Chinese system. The British public examinations were then taken as the model for the systems introduced in the mid 19th century in the USA and other European countries. The Chinese public examinations system was, therefore, the origin of the world's public examination systems for entry into public office and, as such, is of great historical importance.

In the Chinese system the list of the successful candidates at the final examination held in the Imperial Palace was written out on yellow paper known as ""the Golden List"". There were two types of Golden Lists. The small one was submitted to the Emperor and the large one was on public display outside the Chang An Gate. Over 200 large and small Golden Lists are preserved, covering the last 250 years of the system. They have high calligraphic value and are pieces of art in their own right. This documentary heritage was inscribed on the International Memory of the World Register in 2005."

International Register



The Golden Lists are held in the First Historical Archives in the Palace Museum, Beijing. ~ The First Historical Archives