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National Palace Museum

Posted on: March 13, 2017

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One of the reasons why I wanted to go back to Taiwan is I wanted to visit the National Palace Museum of Taiwan again. When I went there in 2007, it was a very rushed affair, only an hour or two and only the most precious exhibits were shown to us by the guide (a Filipino-Chinese who migrated to Taiwan). I barely had time to admire the paintings. When I view paintings, especially landscape paintings, I spend so much time staring at them to get the feel of the art work. So I told myself that when I get the chance to go back, I will be spending at least half a day to stare at paintings.

Well, because I am such an idiot, it took me some time before I figured out how to reach the Museum (after alighting from Shilin Station, Tamsui-Xinyi Line, I still had to look for the bus that goes directly to the museum). It was already 12 nn when I got there.

I figured that the best time to go there is between 10 am to 2 pm. By 3 pm it will be teeming with tourist groups. That can be annoying when you’re gazing at a painting and trying to contemplate the meaning of life in 10th century AD.

This Museum has an amazing collection of Chinese art since the treasures from the Imperial Palace in Beijing was carted off by Chiang Kai-shek to Taipei before the Japanese, and eventually the Communists, took over mainland China.

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If I am not mistaken, this is Chiang Kai-shek

What I remember most about the exhibit there is the explanation of my guide about how jade became important to China and the origin of the Chinese character for jade (was a pictogram depicting an axe or some kind of weapon). My guide ten years ago said before the ancient Chinese discovered metals, they used jade as material for to make farming tools. Jade was just a stone, according to the guide, until a craftsman shapes it into being. A skilled artist can also use the imperfections of the jade to create something beautiful, like this lettuce jade, considered as one of the most important exhibit in the museum.

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An ex-colleague of mine, who thought I was ethnic Chinese, said a woman of age must have jade jewelry in her collection so I ought to have some kind of jade bracelet or earrings. But I said I will not fork a fortune for such things. Hahaha. Real jade is expensive.

So you could only imagine how this screen must have cost. The label says this was “given” (quotations mine) to the Emperor of Japan during the war and was returned to Taiwan in 1945, after the war officially ended.

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Here is a slideshow of the rest of the exhibit

Jade

I spent the longest time in the scroll paintings section of the museum. Among the different forms of visual art, I am drawn most to paintings since I dabbled in it when I was younger (charcoal, water colors, a bit of oil but was a failure in that). This painting (I forget what it’s called but the subject is a scholar in a meadow) is not the prettiest among the bunch but this has resonated with me the most. I could almost feel the wind blowing against the grasses and scholar’s robes. I was transported back in time to that meadow, to that moment when the scholar was taking his walk, contemplating about or searching for something.

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Here are some paintings from the collection.

Ancient Chinese paintings

There are a lot of pretty things inside the Museum (about three floors of exhibits) and every now and then they have to take some collections out of storage because the thousands of treasures they have in their vaults cannot be displayed in the museum all at once. When I was there, they had the Tibetan Buddhist Art, Buddhism in China, The Mongol Princess collection (a collection by a Mongolian princess during a brief occupation of the Mongols) and some exhibits I didn’t bother visiting because it was already getting crowded with group tours and school children.

After four or five hours, I went back to Shilin station and hunted for something to eat (forgot to have lunch since I had brunch). I saw a long queue for this one near the MRT station.

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And decided to check it out. I just pointed to the lady flipping the “pizza” which toppings I wanted. It was greasy but not bad for a streetfood in the middle of the city.

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I had enough time to kill before meeting an editor for dinner that night. A quick jaunt at the Shilin Night Market wouldn’t hurt.

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It was quite early to do a night market but there was something to see already at around 6:30 pm. Some clothes, a lot of cellphone accessories, toys and some souvenirs. This market is targeting tourists. And yes, some Studio Ghibli items too.

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After that quick run, I went to this shabu-shabu place along Civic Road and how I found the place, I don’t know. Google Maps saved me. I got back to my hotel at almost 12 pm. Last trains I think run at 11 pm.

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This is how the subway at the Taipei Main Station looks like at 11 pm.

*to be continued

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2 Responses to "National Palace Museum"

[…] etc. because frankly I’ve seen much better artifacts. Especially since I’ve been to the National Palace Museum in Taiwan, which houses the treasures from the Imperial Palace. Yes, the one in Beijing. Yes, the […]

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life in business journalism

crazy. exciting. boring to some but hey, you get to understand the world better when you're a business journalist. you learn to be patient with tons of documents, make sense of numbers and charts. all geeky stuff. this is my story, behind the scenes.
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