9:30 Arrival at the National Palace Museum. Be sure to be there early so you get a place on the English guided tour.
Our tour guide was very professional and dedicated. Personally, I love History but don't speak Chinese so having the tour guide is a must!
For the purpose of our narrative, we'll call our tour guide Clare. So, Clare started her tour by stating that the museum has China's History that supposedly dates back 8000 years ago. The first period is the Neolithic where we find jade and pottery artefacts. After comes the Bronze period and it's here that we start our tour. Around 1000 AD during the Sung dynasty painters have their names recorded whereas before all were unknown. According to Clare, the Ming dynasty started ruling when Europe was at Renaissance epoch about 1700 AD when we started to create ceramics. The palaces were used by the emperors and in1925 the palace in Beijing saw all of its items being packed and shipped down south due to the Japanese invasion. A civil war between partisans in China also broke out and as a consequence the items were sent to Taiwan, "A ilha Formosa". From now on, people in China would have to travel to Taiwan to see their History.
So, the National Palace Museum was built and became the home of 680.000 pieces of History made of jade, bronze, ceramics and paper documents. Some of the items are so fragile they are only seen once every four years for about thirty days.
One of the first and most intriguing objects that we see is from the Qing dynasty emperor's toys box, a practical way to show aesthetics and embellishment. At the top centre of the box it's written "u-lu" which means "big luck, fortune" and the fact that coral is used emphasizes that statement. The kind of wood (sandalwood) used to sculpt is according to Clare the best one. The flower represented is the national flower of Taiwan; pine trees, meaning longevity; grapes and seeds, meaning abundant offspring. A lot of double meanings, yes, I know. Another box is shown to us, this time we see deers - in chinese "lu" again meaning "fortune". The next curio box we see is this one made of sandalwood:
Now, we move on to the Ming dynasty paintings. Mr Su Shi was a famous writer, painter and many other things - probably the oriental Leonardo Da Vinci - from the Song dynasty. He was sent to exile but kept an optimistic point of view, he wrote the "Odes to the Red Cliff" (for more info).
The landscape paintings are made in scrolls and have several red seals on the left to authenticate to whom they belonged to. They also bear the calligraphy of their owners and personal comments.
Second floor, again we see long landscape paintings that cover the museum walls top to bottom: paint, seals and calligraphy are the 3 main elements.
The "Tang Lady" (Tang dynasty) made of pottery it's a statue that according to Clare is the Mona Lisa of China. She is dressed in a kimono style dress, combed hair, lots of white powder on face and blush on cheeks. Her shoes are pointy so she won't trip over her dress.
(to be continued...)