This chapter focuses on palace servants and analyzes the master–servant relationship in terms of the ruler's political and symbolic agenda. The size and diverse composition of the palace establishment was a corollary of the emperor's preeminence. The very size of the staff, however, created control problems. The Qing resolved the age-old issue of eunuch subversion by employing another subordinated status group, the imperial bondservants, in supervisory roles within a bureaucratized palace administration. Together with inner-court and banner officials, the bondservants formed the Imperial Household Department and enabled the emperors to bypass the Han-dominated civil service in many arenas, extending far beyond the rulers' domestic affairs.
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