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National Palace Museum

:::Treasure Hunting (80mins)

Treasure Hunting


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Length: 80mins
For Adults / School Groups
Visit Trail Description: Have you ever watched Adventures in the NPM or Galaxy Adventure of the NPM Guardians? This visit trail is created to present families with children the protagonists in NPM iPalace Channel's popular animations, allowing them to witness the charm of artifacts, match artifacts with those found in NPM's digital database, and learn related knowledge. Let us experience the fun of treasure hunting in the National Palace Museum!

  1. Pre-visit "warm-up show": Prior to their visits, visitors are encouraged to find out the animations that the characters are in as well as the nature of various exhibitions. The purpose of the "pre-visit 'warm-up show'" is to provide visitors with an introduction to various exhibition types and a list of the animations to enable them to develop basic artifact knowledge, arousing their curiosity and the desire to treasure hunt.
  2. During-visit treasure hunt: Can't wait to go on a treasure hunt? Items such as multimedia guides, apps, and NPM iPalace Channel-related worksheets are provided during the "during-visit treasure hunt" to help visitors learn more about the artifacts
  3.  
  4. Post-visit "study extension": Are you still yearning for more after witnessing the charm of national treasures? Visitors can use the artifact collection data search system and selected artifact collection link provided in "post-visit 'study extension'" to find detailed artifact information.

A Treasure-filled Summer

A Treasure-filled Summer

Planter with a coral carving of the planetary diety Kuixing, Qing dynasty (AD1644-1911)

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Planter with a coral carving of the planetary diety Kuixing, Qing dynasty (AD1644-1911)

1F|Gallery: 106|A Garland of Treasures: Masterpieces of Precious Crafts in the Museum Collection

ake a close look at this planter: you won't find an actual plant inside, but instead, you'll see a special kind of sculpture. This was in fact an auspicious planter display that was very popular in the Qing dynasty court. Here, the figure is the Planetary Deity Kuei-xing delicately carved from a piece of red coral and holding a representation of the Big Dipper. Legend has it that the Kuei-xing was a highly educated scholar, but his ugly appearance always prevented him from passing the civil service examinations. In a fit of anger and resentment, he threw himself into the waters but was saved by a fish dragon. Thereafter, he was transformed into the celestial head of the Big Dipper and was put in charge of determining the outcome of examinations, and career advancement. He thus became one of the commonly worshipped deities.

The figure seen here is completely in vermilion red, with budding horns, bushy eyebrows, protruding eyes, and fangs, for a fierce and animated look. The deity is accompanied by accessories such as fluttering sashes, and holds a representation of the Big Dipper and a branch of plum blossoms. He is standing on the head of a fish dragon with a dragon's head and fish's body carved from green jadeite, and soaring among surging waves. The two objects held by the deity serve as symbols for coming in first place in the civil service examinations. One of his legs is also kicking back towards the main star of the Big Dipper. Known as the "dipper kick," it is a metaphor for being the best among those on the list of successful examination candidates.

The Deity Kuei-xing not only represents prospect of success in the civil service examinations but is also surrounded here by various auspicious symbols. The sides of the jade planter, for example, are adorned with images of multi-colored bats surrounding a longevity character, symbolizing prosperity and long life as well as good fortune at one's doorstep. The fungus on the garden rock in the planter is an auspicious imagery of immortality, while the branch of plum blossoms in the deity's hand also serves as a harbinger of spring, blooming before all the others. This sculpture features lively carving and skillful inlay techniques combining gold, silver with semi-precious gems and convey auspicious connotations, all that makes this piece of display exquisitely beautiful.

 

 

 

A Treasure-filled Summer

Pottery figure of ladies playing polo game in sancai tri-color glaze, Tang dynasty (AD618-907)

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Pottery figure of ladies playing polo game in sancai tri-color glaze, Tang dynasty (AD618-907)

2F|Gallery 201|The Magic of Kneaded Clay: Ceramic Collection of the National Palace Museum

Lavish funerals became popular in the Tang dynasty, with grave goods being exceptionally resplendent. Various figurines of different sizes were fashioned from clay and then covered with yellow, white, green, and brown low-temperature glazes, creating a beautiful and dazzling effect.

The lady is riding on a yellow horse with a colorful saddle. The horse is robust, its four strong legs standing on a rectangular stand, as if waiting for a command. The lady turns to the side with her head slightly leaning forward. Her left hand holds a halter and the right a polo stick. The entire piece was done on a yellowish-gray biscuit to which a white slip was applied and then the "tricolor" colors of yellow, green, white, and ochre were added, creating a colorful and beautiful dripping effect.

Robustness was a mark of feminine beauty in the Tang dynasty, and ladies were often shown wearing the nomadic garb of turndown collars, narrow sleeves, and soft boots, being dressed in light attire ready to engage in various horseback activities. The Persian game of polo was a favorite among upper classes in the Tang dynasty.

 

Pottery figure of a standing lady with painted colors, Tang dynasty (AD618-907)

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Pottery figure of a standing lady with painted colors, Tang dynasty (AD618-907)

2F|Gallery 201|The Magic of Kneaded Clay: Ceramic Collection of the National Palace Museum

During the Tang dynasty, particular emphasis was placed on elaborate funerary ritual which often included large quantities of grave goods. These were intended both to provide for the dead in the afterlife and to glorify the wealth of the deceased's family. As a result, Tang burial frequently included large numbers of earthenware tomb figurines. This female figure is one example.

The young woman has a plump figure; long, attenuated brows and lashes; a small peach-shaped mouth; round face; and a composed expression. These features were precisely the ideal qualities of Tang feminine beauty. The woman wears a long, broad robe, with her right hand held up before her chest and her left hand extended slightly down. Pointy-tipped shoes protrude from beneath the hem of her robe. Her casual and relaxed manner reveals a sense of stately, self-assured ease. Her tall, elaborate hairdo, with descending strands that encircle her cheeks, is a hairstyle that was particularly popular in the late Tang. The figure displays the realistic style of Tang art, embodying for us the natural appearance of Tang noblewomen.

 

White-glazed Pillow in the Shape of a Recumbent Child, Ting ware, Northern Song dynasty (AD960-1127)

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White-glazed Pillow in the Shape of a Recumbent Child, Ting ware, Northern Song dynasty (AD960-1127)

2F|Gallery 205|The Magic of Kneaded Clay: Ceramic Collection of the National Palace Museum

This white porcelain pillow is in the shape of a child on a mat lying on his side, the back being where the head is placed. This piece was produced using the superior molding and decorative techniques characteristic of Ding wares, and it is also infused with a lively spirit; the figure appears equally naughty and cute, while also revealing a sense of wealth and social rank.

The Ding kilns were renowned northern kilns during the Song dynasty located in modern-day Quyang County, Hebei Province. Because the ancient name for the place was Dingzhou, it was called Ding ware. The kilns mainly produced white porcelains and were known for excellent molding craftsmanship, fine smooth glaze, white glaze with a hint of yellow, and decorative techniques that included different types of carving and stamping. The glaze on this piece is ivory white and smooth, with the head and body comprising two molds fixed together and the facial features added later. If one picks up the piece, it becomes clear that there is a small piece of clay inside that makes a faint rattling sound when moved.

Only three pillows in the shape of a recumbent child are known to exist, and the stunning glaze and exquisite decoration of this piece make it unequalled. The bottom of the piece is inscribed with a poem by the Qing emperor Qianlong, tracing it back through the generations and making this a unique national treasure.

 

Warming Bowl in the Shape of a Flower with Light Bluish-green Glaze, Ju ware, Northern Song dynasty (AD960-1127)

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Warming Bowl in the Shape of a Flower with Light Bluish-green Glaze, Ju ware, Northern Song dynasty (AD960-1127)

2F|Gallery|Temporarily not on display

This ten-lobed lotus bowl has gently curved sides, a subtly flaring rim, smooth transition from one petal lobe to the next, and a relatively tall ring foot. The blue-green glaze, from rim to the base, is uniformly thin and opaque, with fine crackling. During firing, this piece was supported by five tiny points underneath the ring foot, and these are the only parts of the body not covered by the glaze. The unglazed ceramic body is grayish-yellow in color.

 

Revolving vase with swimming fish in cobalt blue glaze, Qing dynasty (AD1644-1911)

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Revolving vase with swimming fish in cobalt blue glaze, Qing dynasty (AD1644-1911)

2F|Gallery 205|The Magic of Kneaded Clay: Ceramic Collection of the National Palace Museum

Revolving vases were made as composites pieces, though from the exterior they appear as a single work. This piece has a narrow opening, lipped rim, short neck, broad shoulders, downward sloping body, short round base, and four round ring holders on its shoulders. The body is divided into an internal and external sections, the former being covered with light green glaze on which is painted fallen flowers, water plants, and swimming fish. Because this is a composite vase, rotating the neck of the piece causes the inner vase to revolve at which point one can see different goldfish swim through the openings of the outer vase. The base of the piece is covered in lake-green glaze and has a white central area with a six-character in cobalt blue pigment that reads: "Made in the Qianlong reign year of the Great Qing."

By rotating the neck of the piece, the vase spins and through the openings of the outer vase creates the impression of fish swimming and playing in the water. This revolving vase with its profound sense of playfulness was made during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. Whether such an innovation was influenced by the traditional Chinese merry-go-round or western spinning tops with wind-up springs, the firing process required the making of individual components and assembly. One gains a better understanding of the whole vessel from the integrated complete piece.

 

A Treasure-filled Summer

<i>Zun</i> wine vessel in the shape of animal with metal wire and turquoise inlay, Mid Warring States period (BC375-276)

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Zun wine vessel in the shape of animal with metal wire and turquoise inlay, Mid Warring States period (BC375-276)

3F|Gallery 305|Rituals Cast in Brilliance: Masterpieces of Bronzes in the Museum Collection

This bronze vessel is designed in the three-dimensional shape of an animal with large ears, robust short legs, and hooves. It resembles an ox, but has no horns, and is believed to be a representation of a kind of tapir, an animal that can still be found in parts of Southeast Asia.

The body of this zun is hollow with a removable round cap on its back. Once opened, it can be filled with wine, and, when tilted forward, the contents can be poured from the mouth of the animal, contributing to an ingenious design.

The surface of the vessel is round and smooth, with great attention to detail in the way the animal’s body is depicted. The surface is also decorated with precious metal wire and gem. The area between the animal’s eyes is inlaid with dozens of tiny colorful turquoise pieces, and the eye sockets are filled with dark lacquer to make the golden eyes even brighter and more piercing. The neck is inlaid with a thick golden band that looks like a collar, which gives the impression of luxury. The cloud-and-geometric gold filigree pattern on the body further enhances the refinement of the piece.

This decorative method of inlaying stone or metal on the surface of bronze, known as "gold and silver inlay," was especially popular during the Warring States period. A pattern of grooves was first engraved onto the surface, then filled with metal filigree, and finally the surface was polished to refinement. Although some of the metal has since flaked off, and oxidization has taken away the luster, it is still possible to imagine the original brilliance of this piece.

 

Mao-Gong <i>Ding</i>, Late Western Zhou period (BC1046-771)

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Mao-Gong Ding, Late Western Zhou period (BC1046-771)

3F|Gallery 301|The Bell and Cauldron Inscriptions–A Feast of Chinese Characters: the Origin and Development

The cauldron of Duke Mao is significant because of the inscription on the inside is considered an important national treasure. The 500 characters make this the longest inscription of currently existing bronzes. The inscription is a testament to the history of the "Revival of King Xuan" in the Western Zhou dynasty. The first section is an injunction from King Xuan to the Duke of Mao. The text describes how, after ascending to the throne, King Xuan cherished the way in which Kings Wen and Wu followed the Mandate of Heaven and established the Zhou dynasty, but that he was more circumspect and concerned about the Mandate of Heaven he inherited from his ancestors. The latter part of the inscription details the rewards bestowed by King Xuan on the Duke of Mao. At the end of the inscription, the Duke expresses his thanks to the king and the hope that the cauldron will be handed down from generation to generation. The inscription is written in a style that is infused with classic elegance and refinement. It also expresses King Xuan's earnest instructions, expectations, and faith in the Duke of Mao in taking on important responsibilities. Even today, the expression of such sentiment is deeply moving.

The ding cauldron of Duke Mao is extremely simple and unadorned. The semi-spherical shape of the main body is positioned on top of three hoofed-legs and on either side of the rim are broad upright handles. The body of the cauldron is plain, with only a simple dual circular pattern in a thin band around the circumference of the vessel just under the rim and a slightly raised single-line pattern underneath. The regular shape and thickness of the cauldron combined with the simple literary style of the inscription and the call of King Xuan for the Duke of Mao to take on important responsibilities showcase the solemn and respectful nature of the piece.

 

Jadeite Cabbage, in a cloisonne flowerpot, Qing dynasty (AD1644-1911)

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Jadeite Cabbage, in a cloisonne flowerpot, Qing dynasty (AD1644-1911)

3F|Gallery|Temporarily not on display

This piece is almost completely identical to a piece of bokchoy cabbage. Carved from verdant jadeite, the familiar subject, purity of the white vegetable body, and brilliant green of the leaves all create for an endearing and approachable work of art. Let's also not forget the two insects that have alighted on the vegetable leaves! They are a locust and katydid, which are traditional metaphors for having numerous children. This work originally was placed in the Forbidden City's Yung-ho Palace, which was the residence of the Guangxu Emperor's (r. 1875-1908) Consort Jin. For this reason, some have surmised that this piece was a dowry gift for Consort Jin to symbolize her purity and offer blessings for bearing many children. Although it is said that the association between the material of jadeite and the form of bokchoy began to become popular in the middle and late Qing dynasty, the theme relating bokchoy and insects actually can be traced back to the professional insect-and-plant paintings of the Yuan to early Ming dynasty (13th-15th c.), when they were quite common and a popular subject among the people for its auspiciousness. In the tradition of literati painting, it has also been borrowed as a subject in painting to express a similar sentiment, indirectly chastising fatuous officials. For example, in a poem written in 1775, the Qianlong Emperor associated the form of a flower holder in the shape of a vegetable with the tradition of metaphorical criticism found in the Tang dynasty poetry of Du Fu, in which an official was unable to recognize a fine vegetable in a garden. The emperor thereupon took this as a warning to be careful and alert. Regardless of whether it is a court craftsman or the maker of this jadeite bokchoy cabbage, all are merely giving play to their imagination and creativity, following the taste and directions of their patrons. Despite not having more historical records to probe these ideas, it nonetheless provides the viewer with greater room for imagination.

 

Meat-shaped Stone, Qing dynasty (AD1644-1911)

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Meat-shaped Stone, Qing dynasty (AD1644-1911)

3F|Gallery|Temporarily not on display

In the collection of the National Palace Museum, two of the most famous works on display are "Jadeite Cabbage" and "Meat-shaped Stone," which is why these two are often exhibited together for visitors to appreciate. At first glance, this meat-shaped piece of stone looks like a luscious, mouth-watering piece of "Dongpo pork." Made from banded jasper, it is a naturally occurring stone that accumulates in layers over many years. With time, different impurities will result in the production of various colors and hues to the layers. The craftsman who made this meat-shaped stone took the rich natural resources of this stone and carved it with great precision, and then the skin was stained. This process resulted in the appearance of skin and lean and fatty layers of meat, the veining and hair follicles making the piece appear even more realistic.

 

Jade Ornament in the shape of phoenix crowned with dragon, Eastern Han dynasty (BC25-AD220)

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Jade Ornament in the shape of phoenix crowned with dragon, Eastern Han dynasty (BC25-AD220)

3F|Gallery 303|Betwixt Reality and Illusion – Special Exhibition of Jades from the Warring States Period to the Han Dynasty in the Collection of the National Palace Museum

This jade bixie auspicious beast stands upright with its head held high and is infused with an extraordinary spirit. It is an example of mystical winged beasts as portrayed in the Han dynasty. The image of fierce winged four-legged beasts possibly originated in West Asia, in the same way that the phrase "like a tiger that has grown wings" refers to boundless spirit and power. The Han dynasty inherited this tradition and used auspicious winged beasts as a symbol of the heavens.

During the Han dynasty, the objective of art was to express a sense of movement and tension. As such, although the animal depicted in this bixie stands still and upright, it is infused with a sense of momentum and appears to be about to pounce. Its four limbs take up much of the work and the round arched surface is used to represent the animal’s leg muscles. The slight right-angled triangular structure together with the strong curved lines, arcing of the body, and ferocious roar from the beast create a scene that highlights the power and influence of the bixie as it glares outwards.

The Qing emperor Qianlong was particularly enamored of this piece, so much so that he commissioned a special base and had a poem engraved into the chest of the beast and on its bottom. The bixie is made from greenish jade, though the popularity of ancient artifacts at that time led people at the time to dye the head, neck, and chest a brownish-red to enhance the ancient feel of the piece.

 

Jade Duck, Song to Ming dynasty

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Jade Duck, Song to Ming dynasty

3F|Gallery 306|Art in Quest of Heaven and Truth: Masterpieces of Jades in the Museum Collection

This jade duck was sculpted using a yellow nephrite and its head, belly, and feet are dark brown in color.

The jade duck features remarkably simple sculpting techniques. However, its physical features (i.e., lifted tail and rounded bottom) were accurately portrayed to evoke a sense of adorability and liveliness.