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Past Exhibits

Nature and Human in Unison–the Smart Carvings of Jade and Beautiful Stones
Nature and Human in Unison–the Smart Carvings of Jade and Beautiful Stones
  • Dates: Permanent Exhibit ~2015/12/24
  • Gallery: Exhibition Area I 302

Exhibit Info

Pursuing optimal equilibrium and harmony between human and nature has always been a key concept in Chinese aesthetics. When it is embodied in the art of jade carving, fitting the design to the material and its inherent property is the guiding principle.

In short, the principle means that the natural hues or forms of the material in use induce the theme and designs of the work to be rendered. The artisan fully contemplates the substance and characteristics of the material at hand, which seems to restrict yet actually challenges him and ultimately inspires his creativity. The results are often surprisingly original, but at the same time so aptly natural that works like these are considered very "smart" and called "smart carvings".

The earliest specimen of jade "smart" carving known to us is a three-thousand-year-old jade turtle, unearthed from the archeological site of YinXu, at Anyang. The cute little white body contrasts with its black shell, pleasingly lively, so very approachable, far from the typical alienating, esoteric impression an ancient artifact would strike on us, testifying to that "smartness" does transcend time and space. The National Palace Museum boasts in its collections such treasured smart carvings, mostly made during the 18th and 19th centuries, including ones made of "genuine" jade (nephrite and jadeite), as well as those of agate, chalcedony, or others. Many are ingeniously fashioned using a special design technique called "cute use of tints", which takes advantage of naturally-formed color spots or areas preexisting on the material in use and transforms them into fitting parts of the intended subject. The motifs of such carvings take on a great intriguing variety, from auspicious signs, figures or animals, to flowers and birds, sometimes even featuring vegetables and meat. Among all smart carving curios, the jadeite cabbage of Qing dynasty reigns as the most popular and impressive one, beloved of many visitors to the Museum. It embodies a perfect three-in-one union of intrinsic nature, human creativity, and symbolic significance, indeed a paramount beauty illustrating the Oneness of Nature and Human.

Exhibition Changes

  • Changes to the Jadeite Cabbage with Insects and Meat-shaped Stone Special Exhibitions
  1. The "Jadeite Cabbage with Insects" will be exhibited in the Zhibao Gallery of the National Palace Museum (NPM) Southern Branch from Dec. 28, 2015 to Oct. 2, 2016.
  2. The aforementioned gallery will also display artifacts such as the "Gold Chalice of Eternal Stability" (Qianlong reign, Qing dynasty, 1644-1911), the "Jade Candlestick of Constant Harmony" (Qianlong reign, Qing dynasty, 1644-1911), and the "Meat-shaped Stone" (Qing dynasty; 1644-1911) from Dec. 25, 2015 to May 2, 2016. In addition, the "Vietnamese Hanuman Figure in Underglaze Blue and Overglaze Colors" (fifteenth century) as well as the Natural Freedom: Indian Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh Special Exhibition (tenth century) will be showcased from May 3, 2016 to Oct. 6, 2016. Stay tuned!

Exhibitions in the Zhibao Gallery of the National Palace Museum (NPM) Northern and Southern Branches
Zhibao Gallery, the NPM Southern BranchGallery 302, the NPM Northern BranchNotes
 2015.12.28 (Mon.) ~ 2016.10.02 (Sun.)
Jadeite Cabbage with Insects Special Exhibition
2015.12.25 (Fri.) ~ 2016.05.02 (Mon.)
Exhibiting artifacts such as the "Gold Chalice of Eternal Stability" (Qianlong reign, Qing dynasty, 1644-1911), the "Jade Candlestick of Constant Harmony" (Qianlong reign, Qing dynasty, 1644-1911), and the "Meat-shaped Stone" (Qing dynasty; 1644-1911)
Gallery 302 of the NPM Northern Branch will feature the NPM Southern Branch main beam inscription and landscape, reminding visitors to visit the NPM Southern Museum for the Jadeite Cabbage with Insects Special Exhibition.
2016.05.03 (Tues.) ~ 2016.10.06 (Thurs.)
Showing artifacts such as the "Vietnamese Hanuman Figure in Underglaze Blue and Overglaze Colors" (fifteenth century) and the Natural Freedom: Indian Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh Special Exhibition (tenth century)
The NPM Northern Branch will raise visitors' awareness of the NPM Southern Branch, explain that the two branches form a complete museum, and inform visitors that the "Meat-shaped Stone" will be put on display at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.
2016.10.04 (Tues.)
Meat-shaped Stone, Gold Chalice of Eternal Stability, and Jade Candlestick of Constant Harmony Special Exhibition
2016.10.07 (Fri.)
Showing artifacts such as the "Jadeite Cabbage with Insects"
The NPM Northern Branch will display the "Jadeite Cabbage with Insects," whereas the NPM Southern Branch will showcase the "Meat-shaped Stone."


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