If you have been to Taipei, maybe you have seen the collections in the National Palace Museum on-site. But it’s still likely that you missed the stories about them. Let’s start from the most popular showpiece－Jade Cabbage, Meat-shaped Stone, and Cauldron of Duke Mao to reveal the intriguing facts of the treasures.
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It was said to be a gift for Consort Jin. Now some researchers point out that it may be just a piece of decoration of Yonghe Palace. It could belong to any consort or dame who lived in the palace.
Jade Cabbage is the most popular collection in the museum, but back to the Qing dynasty, it wasn’t valuable. In the 19th century, people preferred jade with a single color. Therefore, a jade artifact like Jade Cabbage with the colors of green and white didn’t worth attention.
The quality of the jade wasn’t perfect. However, the ingenuity of the craftsman was outstanding. He carved the white part into the stem and carved the green part into leaves, turning the jade into a cabbage which amazes people nowadays.
If you take a closer look, you can see one katydid and one locust on the cabbage. Katydids are reproductive. They are a symbol of endless offspring. As for the locust, researchers still can’t find a specific reason why this insect associated with famine is on the cabbage. Maybe they will figure out the reason years later.
When it was found in Yonghe Palace, it was put vertically on the enamel support. The support was forgotten for a long time and it was found 10 years ago when the officials were checking the collections. Now if you see it in NPM, the cabbage is leaning on the wooden support so the katydid and the locust can be spotted easily and the flaws of the artifact can be ignored.
Meat-shape Stone was a tribute for emperor Kangxi from a Mongolian tribe. It was carved from carnelian, of which the texture has a striking resemblance to the meat. You can see the fat, the lean meat, the skin of the pork, and even the capillary pores on the skin. The pores are artificially made by the craftsman. He drilled the pores one by one and dyed the skin to make it even more realistic.
It’s surprising that by the criteria of the museum, Jade Cabbage and Mear-shaped Stones are not national treasures. They are just important antiques cause they are not deeply related to history and cultural inheritance. Despite the fact, they are still the most welcomed collections in the museum.
Cauldron of Duke Mao
Visiting a museum is no longer a boring schedule on your tour. In the National Palace Museum, you can always find something you have resonates with. So why not have a Taipei tour and visit the National Palace Museum?