When Chiang Kai-shek fled mainland China for Taiwan, he took with him many of the treasures that at one time were featured in Beijing’s Palace Museum. Among the items are relics and antiques reflecting 8,000 years of Chinese history. Today the collection includes nearly 700,000 pieces, an impressive collection that merits a full-day visit. Among the many treasures that once belonged to the Emperors of China are a delicately carved jade cabbage, intricate ivory work, and artifacts that chronicle the evolution of the Chinese language and culture over millennia.
The gift shop is just as impressive, and is the perfect place to buy easy-to-carry souvenirs and gifts.
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National Palace Museum
It can be seen on postcards and key chains; you can even buy a replica to take home and admire. Based on the gift shop alone, it was clear what item the National Palace Museum in Taipei treasures more than any other of its 700,000 items – the jade cabbage. Originally part of a Chinese royal dowry in the 19th century, today the cabbage is just one of many treasures of old China on display at the museum.
When Chiang Kai-shek left mainland China, he arranged for the evacuation of the treasures of the Palace Museum, items that chronicle Chinese history spanning more than 8,000 years. For the casual visitor, it can be daunting at first to try to see everything in this massive collection, but the design of the museum itself aids the visitor in a day of education and exploration.
Besides the famous cabbage, there are other works of fine jade art, ancient writings and every accoutrement for a royal household that you may imagine existing. The busiest time of day is first thing in the morning when the tour buses arrive, but they don’t stay long so plan on arriving mid-morning and spending the rest of the day exploring the past.
AFAR Ambassador Matt Long traveled to Taiwan as a guest of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau.