5 Hidden Treasures of the Taipei National Palace Museum

Explore the corridors and seek out the museum's gems

By Google Arts & Culture

National Palace Museum, Taipei

More than 8000 years of Chinese history, from the Neolithic to the modern era, are to be found at the National Palace Museum, Taipei. The museum's collection of nearly 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese artefacts and artworks makes it one of the largest of its type in the world.

With so much to see, there are some things you're bound to miss. So we've searched the museum to find some of its best hidden treasures.

1. Tsu-i Tsun

This wide-rimmed bronze pot is known as a tsun, a type of ritual wine vessel that was popular in the early Western Zhou period (1046-771 BCE). This precious tsun is inscribed with a dedication to a man named Fu-i, the grandfather of the unknown patron.

Tsu-i Tsun (BC 1046-BC 771) by AnonymousNational Palace Museum

Both sides of the body are decorated with floral and animal features. The eyes, horns, ears, and fangs of these large 'animal-mask' patterns protrude from the surface of the vessel. The complicated design demonstrates the high skills of the ancient artists.

2. Zong-zhou Zhong

This ceremonial bronze bell made between 1046-771 BCE commemorates the victory of King Li of the Western Zhou over the Nanyi and Dongyi peoples. Like the tsun, this large bronze bell would have been a very precious object and given great honour to the king and his ancestors.

Zong-zhou Zhong (BC 1046-BC 771) by AnonymousNational Palace Museum

The bell's decoration resembles that of the tsun. The lower part of the bell, known as the ku, is decorated with an 'animal-mask' design. The central section, or wu, has a curvilinear pattern and both sides are decorated with k'uei dragon motifs.

3. Ceramic Polo Players

Lavish funerals and expensive grave goods became popular in the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE). People were often buried with painted ceramic figurines of musicians, dancers, and sports players. These two small figurines show women on horseback playing polo.

Pottery figure of ladies playing polo game in sancai tri-color glaze, Tang dynasty (AD618-907) (AD 618-AD 907) by AnonymousNational Palace Museum

Robustness was a mark of feminine beauty in the Tang dynasty, and ladies were often shown on horseback wearing the traditional nomadic coats with narrow sleeves and low collars - ready to leap into action.

4. Bi and Cong

Of all the objects in the National Palace Museum, these are perhaps the most intriguing. The circular stone bi and tall, hollow cong were carved by the neolithic Liangzhu culture (3400-2250 BCE) using nothing more than abrasive sand.

Cong tube (Neolithic age, late Liangzhu culture, 2500 BCE - Neolithic age, late Liangzhu culture, 2200 BCE) by UnknownNational Palace Museum

They vary in size and length, but they resemble one another. They are thought to be ritual objects and were often placed in graves, but other than that their purpose is a mystery. Their form and craftsmanship has been appreciated by scholars throughout Chinese history.

5. Jadeite Cabbage

You probably know of this piece already, but make sure to take another look. This intricately-carved Qing Dynasty (1644-1912 CE) Jadeite Cabbage is one of the prize pieces of the National Palace Museum collection.

Jadeite Cabbage (Qing dynasty (1644-1911)) by UnknownNational Palace Museum

The master craftsman who carved this almost-lifelike pak choi cabbage used the jade's natural colouration to form the white stem and verdant leaves. The cabbage is thought to have been a wedding gift, as it's topped by a locust and katydid, traditional symbols of fertility.

Meat-shaped Stone (AD 1644-AD1911) by AnonymousNational Palace Museum

The Jadeite Cabbage is accompanied by the Meat-shaped Stone, a piece of jasper carved, very convincingly, into the shape of a slice of Dongpo pork - a delicacy known and enjoyed across China for the past 1000 years.

Jadeite Cabbage (Qing dynasty (1644-1911)) by UnknownNational Palace Museum

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps