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國立故宮博物 National Palace Muserm(New window)
Image: Nature and Human in Unison - the Smart Carvings of Jade and Beautiful Stones
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Selection: Introduction
Selection: Jadeite Cabbage
Selection: Selected Jade Carvings and Beautiful Stones in the National Palace Museum's collection
Selection: Home
Title: Jadeite Cabbage

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This jadeite, part green and part white, which is now a wonderful Chinese cabbage, would be considered mere second-rate material full of impurities if it was to be made into usual vases, jars, or ornaments, because of the cracks and blemishes that came with it. However, the artisan ingeniously transformed the rock into a lifelike vegetable of leafy green and white stems, with all unappealing rifts now hidden invisible amid the veins. And the discolored spots take on the marks of snow and frost. So with a stroke of genius, defects turn perfect. Beauty is in the detail and creativity works wonder.

The cabbage used to be a curio item displayed in Eternal Harmony Palace, the residence quarter of Emperor Guangxu's Lady Jin. For this reason, the piece is thought to have belonged to her. Hence the inference that the "white" cabbage signifies purity or chastity of the bride, and the two insects alighting at the tips of leaves symbolize fertility: bringing a long line of imperial children to the royal family.

In addition, there is a pleasant surprise in this exhibit for our visitors: the original setup of the cabbage while it adorned the Qing palace is now reenacted through a video image. It shows that the cabbage was previously "planted" in a cloisonné flowerpot as a potted landscape, quite a fancy and interesting way of display.

Jadeite Cabbage, in a cloisonné flowerpot (New window)

Jadeite Cabbage, in a cloisonné flowerpot
Qing dynasty (1644~1911)
Length: 5.07, Width: 9.1cm, Height: 18.7cm