On 22Jul14 we visited the National Palace Museum - the front of a huge collection of artifacts from China’s 8000 year history. When the Nationalist Chinese government retreated to Taiwan in the late 40s, they brought everything collected by the emperors of China over the thousands of years of Chinese empire. There are pots and vases painted with the styles of different dynasties: blue and white was the aesthetic of Ming dynasty while the Qing pottery was much more colorful. Thousands of years of funereal artifacts are in the Palace Museum, mostly taken from tombs by archaeologists in the early 20th century. The quantity of artifacts in the museum collection is such that it would take >40 years to show everything if they changed the exhibits every 3-4 months. Currently, the most famous artifact on display is a cabbage carved out of jade, which has a grasshopper on it, part of the same piece of stone.
We learned some interesting facts about jade while at the museum. At the earliest times, it was used for tools - axes, weapons, knives. However, as metalworking developed it was replaced by copper for functions such as these and relegated to a material used for beautiful ritual objects, which is how it remained for thousands of years.
At the top of the museum was a tea room designed by Chiang Kai-shek’s wife, who had the sole right to bring people up there. It’s a beautiful room looking out over the mountains surrounding the area. The decoration is simple and traditional and it would be very relaxing and expensive to drink tea there.