Chinese New Year at the National Palace Museum

In Taiwan’s very own National Palace Museum ( 國立故宮博物院 ), a special exhibition, “Enduring Splendor – A Special Exhibition of Mr. Peng Kai-dong‘s Bequest started Friday, January 09, 2009, features some of the most representative and well-known “court year” artworks of the last imperial dynasty, the Qing Dynasty capital (current-day Beijing), in the 18th century.

Mr. Peng Kai-Dong, born in Hsin-chu (新竹), Taiwan (a.k.a. 風城 The Windy City) in 1912 lived his early years in Japan to make a living.  He often travelled to Taiwan, however eventually settled in Japan where his determination to succeed, original vision and social networking marked himself as the most successful businessman in the country.  After WW II, a great amount of antiquities were in exchange in the art market due to post-war socio-political instability, caught Mr. Peng’s eye, thus beginning his collection.

Mr. Peng held a recognized, long relationship with the National Palace Museum (NPM) through shared interest in Buddhist art.  In fond of his homeland in later years, Mr. Peng lent is collection of gilt bronze Buddhist scriptures to the NPM in 1987, and in 1996, sold 32 to the Museum.  By 2004, he donated 358 bronze sculptures and objects from his collection and a special exhibition , “The Casting of Religion,” was based solely on his donations, organized in the same year.  In his passing recently, in November 24, 2006, his will allowed a final donation of 48 pieces to the Museum.

Among the many works in the museum, one stands as the centrepiece in the event: a painting of the sun and moon simultaneously rising as the five planets align; an event known as a syzygy, (popularly believed phenomenon to bring a year of peace and of a bountiful harvest).  The true-life event that inspired this work occurred on the first day of the first month (Chinese New Year) of the Qien-Lung Emperor’s 26th year of reign, dated 1761.

Hsu Yangs Syzygy of the Sun, Moon, and the Five Planets depicts the sun and moon rising together as the five planets line up. The work of art is on display at the National Palace Museum through March 25 as part of the special exhibition New Year Paintings of the Ching Capital. (Courtesy of the National Palace Museum)

Hsu Yang's "Syzygy of the Sun, Moon, and the Five Planets" depicts the sun and moon rising together as the five planets line up. The work of art is on display at the National Palace Museum through March 25 as part of the special exhibition "New Year Paintings of the Ching Capital." (Courtesy of the National Palace Museum)

Other works such as the “New Year Paintings of the QLing Capital” features 12 sets of paintings in hand scroll, hanging scroll, and album leaf formats from the NPM collection,  related to the Chinese “court year,” representing the start of Qing dynasty’s new year (1644 – 1911).

“The particular pieces on display are among the most beautiful and famous works of the Ching period related to the Chinese New Year,” commented Lina Lin, curator of the upcoming exhibition, and associate researcher of the NPM’s painting and calligraphy department.

According to the China Post article released on January 9, 2009, Lin took almost two years, and 26 art volumes before deciding on the selection to be displayed for the awaiting exhibition.  One is able to expect some featured art to be dated as far back as Chien-Lung’s reign (1736-1795), at the height of Qing Dynasty’s power.

Lin goes on to explain,  “This rare event was seen as especially auspicious…

“The painting was therefore commissioned to commemorate the occasion and in honor of the emperor.”

Chen Shus Beautiful Scene for the New Year, depicts blossoms associated with the first lunar month, next to lily roots, persimmon, spirit fungus, and an apple, the Chinese terms for which are homonyms for auspicious phrases. (Courtesy of the National Palace Museum)

Chen Shu's "Beautiful Scene for the New Year," depicts blossoms associated with the first lunar month, next to lily roots, persimmon, spirit fungus, and an apple, the Chinese terms for which are homonyms for auspicious phrases. (Courtesy of the National Palace Museum)

Among the eye-catching highlights, is Chen Shu‘s “Beautiful Scene for the New Year,” a hanging scroll of flower and fruit arrangements, depicting an assemblage of chimonanthus, camellia, dahlia, and narcissus — blossoms parallel with the first lunar month.

One may observe that next to the planter, are lily roots, persimmon, spirit fungus, and an apple; all Chinese homonyms for  “Shih Shih Ju Yi (May all things go as you wish)” and “Ping An Ju Yi (May you have peace and everything that you want).” The flowers, interestingly enough, are not dipped in water but in soil; a symbol of “continuity and permanence.”

The exhibition has officially begun January 9, unto March 25, 2009.


Address: 221 Chih-shan Rd., Sec. 2;
Shih-lin, Taipei, 11143
TAIWAN

Phone Number:  (02) 2881-2021

For directions or transportation, click here.

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~ by Lan on 2008 SunUTC2009-01-11T12:49:20+00:00. 15.

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