Sunday, September 03, 2006

National Palace Museum

When Chiang Kai-Shek fled mainland China during the Communist Revolution, he didn't leave empty-handed. In fact, he took just about every important Chinese cultural artifact of the past 6000 years and brought them to Taiwan. The result is the National Palace Museum in Taipei, one of the most famous landmarks in Taiwan.

It is really hot in Taiwan right now. It is about 98 degrees and humid. Spending time indoors is a good thing, but it is even better when you can look at invaluable jade sculptures and bronze antiques. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed in the museum, but I managed to flick this one of a Buddha statue outside the exhibition halls without getting caught.

As we were walking in, I caught a glimpse of a guard doing something curious. He had Steve Irwin-ed a snake near the main entrance to the museum. He took a minute to pose for a picture, then carried it off to what I can only assume was an airplane occupied by Samuel L.

There were two particular pieces that we saw worth noting. The first was the "jade cabbage." It is a jade scuplture of a Chinese cabbage with a grasshopper and katydid sitting on its leaves. The painstaking detail of the carving can only truly be appreciated in person. It is one of the most famous jade sculptures in the world and people come from all over to see it.

The second piece was an ornament made of ivory that is known as "latticed balls within balls." It is had to describe exactly what this is, but basically an artist carves a single piece of ivory into several concentric spheres that can freely rotate inside each other. The particular piece that we saw had 17 balls and amazingly intricate artwork embedded on the outside.

We stayed in the museum until it closed at 5:00PM, and then headed back to the van. The view from the parking lot was pretty nice, so I took a pic. I can hardly wait for where we are about to go next: the Night Market.


Ange said...

i am so jealous of all those awesome pieces of artwork you get to see in person. . .i'm glad you appreciate them, otherwise i'd have to throw down.

and that photo of the guard with the snake is absolutely priceless.

Paul said...

Yeah, at that time scholars (archeologists, anthropologists, and plenty other 'ists') were torn over whether to stay with the important artifacts and go to Taiwan, or to stay with the major dig sites in the mainland. Peter Hessler's Oracle Bones goes into this topic deeply. A great read!

Also, Steve Irwin, R.I.P. I respect the comment/verbage, and oh so timely...

live it up j!

Jeremy said...

wow. steve irwin R.I.P. indeed. when i wrote the post, i hadn't heard the news yet. we have definitely lost the most dangerous and poisonous croc hunter in the wuuurld!