I think one of my biggest regrets on my Taiwan trip was not being able to spend more time at the National Palace Museum. We spent too much time at Tamsui, and by the time we got back to the city it was already 4-5pm. Granted, the museum closes at 9pm on weekends, but the group I was travelling with (a bunch of Aunties and a group of young students) weren’t too keen on looking at a bunch of artefacts and we had to leave early.
This is why I don’t want to go in a group. Even if a group trip is in order, one should always travel with like-minded friends/family.
Anyway, the National Palace Museum has one of the largest collections of ancient Chinese artefacts (close to 700,000!) in the world. Most of these were saved from China during the Japanese occupation, and were safely in Taiwan by the time of the Cultural Revolution.
Spanning across several floors and multiple halls, I’d suggest spending at least half a day here if you’re a culture/history buff like me. The items on display are sensitive to light so they don’t allow flash photography; and no photography after 6pm.
Hall with antique furniture. On the right is a Chinese ‘couch’. No cushions – people were used to sitting/lying down on wooden platforms back then. In the middle is a small portable table for tea, or playing chess. Can also be converted into a bed – how cool is that?
Another exhibition hall had a collection of Buddhist deities from various regions and different eras. Each had a unique ‘style’ reflecting the artistic/cultural sentiments of the time period.
An interesting piece: a golden lotus flower (the lotus flower is a prominent symbol in Buddhism) holding tiny Buddha figurines.
Seals. In ancient days, for a royal edict to be passed, it had to have the stamp of approval. Literally.
Painting and calligraphy. The characters were so painstakingly aligned they looked almost printed.
Ming vases, characterised by their trademark blue and white colours.
Coloured inks. To get the ink, one usually had to whet the ink stone to get the desired liquid and consistency.
Secret kungfu journals.. I mean, Imperial books.
That’s one giant paintbrush!
Intricate golden cups/trophies studded with precious jewels.
Block of jade.
Decorative items fashioned from white/green jade: Perfume and snuff bottles, vases, rings, bangles.. etc
Mini jade abacus
Unpolished jade block.
A special exhibition with a mini ‘cabbage jade’. The original jade block wasn’t a high grade one, but the artist skillfully turned it into a ‘cabbage’ shape to hide its flaws.
Beautiful lapiz lazuli plates and pendants. Great colour. :)
‘Go’ set made from semi precious stones.
Had to leave early, but we managed to catch a performance downstairs where a group of elderly personnel sang and played traditional instruments.
Back at our hotel, we had MOS Burger for dinner! Always wanted to try it coz we don’t have it in Malaysia.
The beef with bacon and egg was amazingly good !