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National Palace Museum of Taipei

They pass me in droves.  Tour groups of Mainland Chinese who have come to the National Palace Museum in Taipei to see the relics of their culture saved by Chiang Kai Shek.  The treasures were moved to Taipei Taiwan before Mao Tse Tung could destroy them as he took over power.  We mostly ignore each other, but sometimes our curiosity about each other makes staring unavoidable.  

The Mainlanders follow a tour leader waving a banner, some intent on listening to his spiel, others drifting off in their own worlds of appreciation or possibly boredom. Every once in a while I feel certain one of the group has glared at me with hostility.  Occasionally they push me out of their way to get their own closer look at objects.  I can hardly blame them.  What a lost legacy of former imperial splendor.

I find it interesting that after all these decades there is still so much interest in these objects from a very different time. I have been told by a Taiwanese acquaintance that the Chinese come searching for a sense of identity destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.  How sad.

I am fascinated by the beauty and craftmanship displayed that began thousands of years ago. What a grievous loss for the artistic history of all humanity that so much was destroyed.   I wonder what the world was like when these treasures were in daily use?  Clearly one of incredible wealth and privilege for some.  I wonder about the effort required to move it all to safety.  I feel sadness for all that was lost during the Cultural Revolution  and not able o be saved.

I am not at all knowledgeable about the past glories of the Chinese Dynasties, other than to know they had a tremendous influence on Japanese art and culture.  We spent two half days at the museum and still didn’t see it all.  The museum has over 700,000 objects in rotation.  I have selected a few that I found truly spectacular for no other reason than my own personal taste.  Hope you enjoy my choices and don’t find them overwhelming.  Bring on the jade, the jewelry, the ceramics, the paintings, and the porcelain!

such treasures!

One can only take in just so much beauty.


Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • Mora Chartrand says:

    I’m thrilled that the museum continues to be an awe-inspiring experience. My parents were collectors of Chinese and Thai art, with a smattering of Japanese pieces too. When I was 14 we spent part of our summer vacation in Taiwan and the museum was at the top of the list of places to visit. My father purchased the museum books set and used it for reference for many years to come. His first love was jade and the pieces in the collection were, and I’m sure still are, stunning and breathtaking. What a lovely walk down memory lane you’ve provided me with your post. Thank you.

  • Melanie Bales says:

    Thanks Dianne for sharing your experiences! Vicarious pleasures. . . . We have had gorgeous SB-like weather here in Ohio finally! I look out my window on a woods with green green green. Have a wonderful time on your travels and hope our paths cross sometime soon. XOXO Melanie

  • Elaine Nakashima says:

    Oh, just a p.s.: Michael said the red jade guy is known as a temple guardian, or sometimes a wrathful deity. But you probably already knew that! 😉

  • Elaine Nakashima says:

    Thank you, Dianne, for taking the time to take and post these beautiful saved objects. I’ve always been partial to Japanese art (yes, aware of the Chinese influence), because it seems in general more subtle. But the pics you posted are more obvious examples of their influence on Japanese art than I’d been exposed to before. My faves: the peach vase(s?), the black ink panel painting, the purple jade Buddha, the red-jade warrior (demon? immortal?), and the green/red bracelet (I want that!) Love your writing, as always!

    • devapnek says:

      Thanks for delving in, elaine! I wasn’t sure how interesting the images would be to my readers. Yes, I too like the elegant simplicity of Japanese art, but all the works you mentioned were very compelling! My fave might have been the painting. It was huge and fabulous! Thanks for your input.