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Past exhibition

Permanent Exhibition
Our Beloved Treasures: Masterpieces in the National Palace Museum Collection
The National Palace Museum houses many renowned works of art that are beloved by visitors. This exhibition at the S302 Gallery was designed to offer the people of southern Taiwan easier access to the most famous artworks in the NPM collection. In late October 2020, a revamped version of the exhibition with new themes and display designs provides a more in-depth introduction to the treasured artworks. The sub-themes that connect certain exhibits also serve to enhance viewing pleasure.
Exhibition Information
  • Event Date Permanent Exhibition
  • Location 3F S302
Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Activities of the 12 Months: The 10th Month Painting Academy art
“The 10th Month” primarily depicts indoor activities. In the foreground structure, scholars delight in examining famous painted scrolls and appraising ancient objects of arts. Through the grand window on the building to the left, an elderly painter is busy painting a portrait. In the building in the distance, a group of women play musical instruments, stitch clothing, and sit to chat. As it is portrayed here, the tenth lunar month is a time for social gatherings and relaxation.
Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Activities of the 12 Months: The 11th Month Painting Academy art
“The 11th Month” focuses on the celebration of an important holiday that falls on the seventeenth day of the month, the birthday of the Buddha Amitabha. In the middle ground, in the building beside which a peacock has unfurled its tail, the Buddhist monk on a meditation platform is in the midst of receiving a supplicant.  This scene might be a portrayal of Amitabha’s birthday during the early Qing dynasty, when the Pure Land school of Buddhism had many adherents in the imperial court. At the waterside pavilion in the foreground, a scholar is deep in concentration as he throws arrows into a pot in the ancient banquet diversion of “touhu.” Behind this scene, to the diagonal, the women next to the covered walkway play “cuju,” an ancient football-like game. Nearby, in rapturous glee, children compete with spinning tops and play hide-and-seek. In the frost-laden forest across the river, the guarded caravan of diplomatic envoy can be seen, its procession of exotic animals and rare treasures slowly progressing on its journey to pay tribute to the emperor. Court painters drew upon these activities to infuse the dullness of the eleventh lunar month with an idealized sense of joy and intrigue. 
Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Activities of the 12 Months: The 12th Month Painting Academy art
“The 12th Month” presents a scene of snow-white mountains and a frozen lake in the depths of winter. In the courtyard in the foreground, frolicking children play marbles, kick a shuttlecock back and forth, and build a lion out of snow. In the hall in front of the building built with foreign architecture, scholars gathered around a hot brazier partake of delicacies and wine. A herd of deer can be seen in the park behind them—they symbolize wealth, as the Chinese words for “one hundred deer” rhyme with “a hefty salary.” Atop the ice-covered lake, man-drawn sleighs shuttle to and fro. This illustration of winter at its coldest thrums with lively activity, interweaving the scene with the sense of peace and joy on earth.
Early Western Zhou period, c. 11th-10th century BCE
Square ding cauldron of Zuo Ce Da
This small, rectangular ding cauldron is decorated beneath the lip of its opening with designs of twin-tailed dragons. The sides and underbelly of the body of the vessel feature a pattern of decorative studs (also known as “nipple-nails”). The cauldron’s interior walls are emblazoned with an inscription that memorializes how Zuoce Da was given a white horse as reward for his merits; this inscribed ding cauldron was cast to commemorate this event and for use in ancestral offering rituals. Historical value is added to the inscription by its mentions of Zhou dynasty kings Wu and Cheng. The National Palace Museum holds a pair of such cauldrons in its collection that are nearly identical in terms of size and decoration, but their inscriptions vary in length by a single character. The pictured vessel’s inscription is forty-one characters long, while that of the other vessel is missing a single character. This discrepancy reveals that the calligraphy for the two cauldrons’ inscriptions was written separately, and subsequently cast from separate clay molds.
Northern Song dynasty, late 11th-early 12th century
Narcissus basin with celadon glaze, Ru ware
Wares from the Ru kilns, which are renowned for their celadon glazes, were produced for exclusive use at court during the late Northern Song dynasty, and as such are extraordinarily rare. This is especially true of the narcissus basins fired by the Ru kilns, of which only six were passed down uninterruptedly through the ages. The National Palace Museum holds four of these basins, all of which were inherited from the collections of the Qing dynasty Forbidden City.  Of the four, the pictured narcissus basin is the truest representation of these pieces’ original appearance—it is the only one that was neither engraved with poetry written in Emperor Qianlong’s hand, and nor given metallic band along its rim by later craftsmen. The body of the vessel was created from a mold, not thrown on a potter’s wheel. Viewing the basin from different angles subtly reveals places of slight asymmetry and obliqueness.
Yongle reign (1403-1424) , Ming dynasty
Vase with Floral Pattern
Floral patterns were carved in deep relief in the layer of red lacquer covering this long-necked vase, in such a way that the vessel’s earthen yellow coloring can be seen in the spaces between the flowers. Black lacquer was applied to the base of the vessel, into which an inscription reading “Made during the Yongle reign period, Ming dynasty” was engraved in needle-thin regular script. This vase’s lacquer is especially thick, allowing for its engraving to include overlapping layers of flowers and leaves at different depths, giving its surface a sense of three dimensionality. The piece was meticulously burnished, so that while the sharp incisions used to give the flowers and leaves their veins are visible, the images’ outlines are rounded, and the piece is smooth to the touch. These features put the heights of skill reached by lacquer engravers during the Yongle reign period on full display. The carved red lacquer wares produced during the Yongle era were said to have been created at the Orchard Factory in Beijing. By the middle of the Ming dynasty they were highly esteemed, and Qing dynasty emperor Qianlong even lauded them, calling them, “the Orchard Factory’s fine works of carved red lacquer.”
Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Jadeite cabbage
The jadeite cabbage is carved from natural jadeite, with a rich emerald green and mottled white coloring. Its creator ingeniously made use of the uncut stone’s natural coloring, carving it in such a way that its deep green portions became the cabbage’s leaves, while its white portions turned into its stalks. The naturally-occurring imperfections in the jade, such as its cracks and variations in color, were used to create the sense that it is moist with water, thereby making the cabbage appear yet more realistic. On the tips of the leaves stand a long-horned grasshopper and a locustt. Two insects present in different poses. The grasshopper, the one in bigger size, show finely engraving of zigzag lines on its legs.
Qing dynasty, Late 17th to early 18th century.
Walnut shell carving in the shape of a flower basket, by Chen Ziyun
flowers found throughout the four seasons: peonies, lotus flowers, hydrangeas, magnolias, and plum blossoms. The forms of each of the miniscule flowers can be clearly distinguished, leaving no doubt that this is anything but a masterpiece of miniature carving. There are tiny holes dotting the top of the shell, while its base has a single wide opening into which fragrant herbs could be inserted, so that it could be hung from the handle of a fan or walking stick to function like a scented sachet. Beneath the handles, two lines of tiny running-cursive script were carved and then filled with black ink. They read: “Yi-chou year, in the depths of winter. Carved by Chen Ziyun.”