The story I am told by my relatives about the National Palace Museum in Taiwan is that it has the highest density of Chinese treasure anywhere in the world, compared to any museum in China. After having visited the Forbidden City, the Shaanxi History Museum in Xian, and the Shanghai History Museum, I would probably have to agree. Even though three quarters of the museum was closed for renovations when I went, it was still a formidable collection of jade, bronze, ivory, and religious statues.
Two of the most prized possessions in the collection are the jadeite cabbage with insects and the meat-shaped stone.
Jadeite Cabbage with Insects
I wouldn’t know where to begin if somebody asked me how to classify between good jade and bad jade. So this looked like another piece of jade. However, the neat thing about this is in how it is crafted. There are two insects right on the leaves of the cabbage. A locust and katydid, which supposedly represents and abundance of children. Don’t ask me how that reference came about.
The meat shaped stone is really life-like. If I didn’t know any better, I would say that they stole a piece of roast pork from my mom’s kitchen. There is the crisp outer layer of skin, the fatty layer underneath, and the sinewy muscle that makes up the majority. There is not much history behind it besides that it comes from the Qing Dynasty.
Personally, I really liked the hand crafted ivory pieces. They were so intricately detailed. Some details were so miniscule that the museum provides a magnifying glass just to see all of them.
To get to the museum simply take the metro to the Shi Lin stop (If you have been visiting the night markets, then you definitely know this stop.). And then take a short bus ride up the road to the museum.
The next time I visit the National Palace Museum in Taipei. I hope they have finished renovations so that I could spend a good day wandering and seeing all of the different crafts you can’t see anywhere else in the world.