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Taipei's National Palace Museum

TAIWAN | Sunday, 29 September 2019 | Views [187]

National Palace Museum, Taipei

National Palace Museum, Taipei

CONNIE REMEMBERS DITCHING A BUSINESS MEETING in 1988 to visit the National Palace Museum, the highlight of any visit to Taipei.  It took us three trains and a bus to get there today — plus a little help from some locals — but only $5 for the round trip.  If only the US had public transportation like this!


     A little helf from our new friends

I won’t pretend an understanding of Chinese history or even an overwhelming curiosity.  There are just too many same-sounding rulers and dynasties going back 6000 years.  But, oh, the stuff they left behind!  The museum has three floors of perfectly curated bronzes, jade carvings, ceramics, Buddhas, scrolls, calligraphy, seals, porcelain, paintings and official documents, some going back 8000 years.  


    National Palace Museum

Two special exhibits caught our attention, partially because the tour groups skipped them.  We knew a bit about incense, frankincense mostly, from our time in Jordan and Israel, and we were familiar with sandalwood.  Agarwood was something new to us.  It was used not only for incense but for carving and jewelry.  A section was devoted to jade vessels other accoutrements for burning the incense.

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           Incense . . . more than just a nice fragrance

And speaking of jade, there was an entire section devoted to carving jade, from raw jadeite and nephrite to the intricate — and sometimes lethal — finished products.  Jade is extremely hard, harder than the implements available to the artisans, who had to laboriously wear away the stone with abrasives.  It’s easy to see how they fashioned knife blades and such, but producing some of the delicate objets d’art in the collection seems almost impossible.   


    Green and White Jade with Gemstone inset

We find calligraphy, whether Chinese, Japanese or Islamic, fascinating, even more so after reading how it changed over the years from one official  “alphabet” to another and finally permitting artistic interpretation.  It’s too bad we couldn’t read any of the poetry.  It must sound as beautiful as it looks.  


          The Write Stuff, Caligraphy brushes

This being Sunday, the Museum was packed.  The aforementioned tour groups ebbed and flowed like the tides, rushing from one gallery to the next.  One minute you would be engulfed by people and then you would be nearly alone.  It was difficult to take pictures without a person or their reflection in the frame.  I took this photo intentionally and got a giggle from the girl when I showed it to her.  


         Ceramics and a smile

There was no shortage of ceramics, including everyone’s favorite Ming Porcelain.  Frankly — and here I show my ignorance and lack of sophistication — I’m not a big fan of the blue found on most Ming vases — and Delft and Meissen, for that matter.  But the white and especially the rarer red Ming pieces are exquisite.  


  Rare Red Ming Porcelain



                 Sweet White Ming Porcelain


                              Traditional Blue Ming Porcelain

Ceramics was serious business — one panel showed the 20-step process for making pottery from Mining the Clay to Paying Tribute to the Higher Spirits for Good Wishes.


     Saving the Best for Last

Connie was beginning to despair.  We didn’t find her favorites from the ’88 visit until the last gallery — carved objects so tiny they were presented behind a magnifying glass.  If we were still in Japan they would have been netsuke.  Here in Taipei they are merely magnificent.

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       Nanno Art                                       Magnified




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