Taiwan Tour 14-18 March, 2018
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Uncovering Treasures in Taiwan: Collectors Circle Taiwan Tour

Peggy Pik Ki Ho (Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Splendid Feast of Sensations: H. C. S. Arts Foundation (14 March afternoon) 

Enjoying the spring breeze of Taipei, the tour received a warm welcome from Mr. Gary K. C. Ho (何國慶), Ms. Beatrice Hsieh (謝佩霓) and Dr. Kuo-hau Wu (吳國豪) at the well-known H. C. S. Arts Foundation (何創時書法藝術基金會), which houses numerous calligraphies of the Ming and Qing dynasties and the Republican Era. Being a good storyteller and sophisticated collector, Mr. Ho deciphered the poems in cursive scripts for us and recalled the memories of his beloved father Ho Chuang Shih (何創時), who often wrote poems with ink and brush:

“Of wine, won’t you drink one last cup with me? 勸君更盡一杯酒,
West beyond Yang Pass, no old friends you’ll see!” 西出陽關無故人。

 By practising the favourite verses from “Song of Wei Town” (渭城曲) by Wang Wei (王維), the grief of war was transcended. The calligraphy foundation was established in the name of his father to share the healing power and beauty of Chinese cultural relics. Mr. Ho invited two guqin masters to play “Running Water” (流水) and “Thinking of an Old Friend” (憶故人) for us. Surrounded by exquisite works by Huang Daozhou (黃道周), Wang Duo (王鐸), Fu Shan (傅山), Mei Qing (梅清), Shi Tao (石濤) and tasting Taiwanese tea and cakes, the splendid feast of sensations marked an unforgettable afternoon for our members.

 Stunning Beauty of Royal Taste: National Palace Museum (15 March morning)

The generous support of Dr. Pei-chin Yu (余佩瑾), the Chief Curator of the Department of Antiquities, facilitated a private viewing of porcelains and a visit to the Conservation Centre. The presence of the Cup with Design of Chickens, Rocks and Flower in Doucai colour, Chenghua reign brought the excitement of our members to a climax. Conservation processes, tools and techniques of rare books, painting and calligraphy and textiles were introduced. In addition, Ms. Lan-yin Huang (黃蘭茵) and Ms. Wen-e Tung (童文娥) gave us guided tours for the two exhibitions: “Pleasingly Pure and Lustrous: Porcelains from the Yongle Reign (1403-1424) of the Ming Dynasty” and “Celebrations Lighting Up the Night: A Special Exhibition.” The transparency of the Bowl with Impressed Four-seasons Flowers Decoration in Sweet-white Glaze was eye-catching. The painting Activities of the Twelve Months: The First Month by court artists of the Qing dynasty portrays the appreciation of blossoms and lanterns during the Lantern Festival. Both the purity and blossom colouring projected the superb artistic achievement of the royal taste of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

 The Joy of Sharing: Mr. Tsai I-ming’s Collection and His Family (15 March afternoon)

In the afternoon, our members were hosted by Mr. Tsai I-ming (蔡一鳴), the founder of the Ching Wan Society (清翫雅集) formed by famous collectors in Taiwan. He loves Chinese antiques partly because of the influence of his classmate’s elder brother Mr. J. M. Hu (胡惠春), one of the founding members of Min Chiu Society in Hong Kong. Mr. Tsai made our trip worthwhile by giving us the opportunity to view some unique and meaningful pieces, including the Famille Rose Moon Flask Vase with Design of Quail and Magpies, paintings by Fu Baoshi (傅抱石), Qi Baishi (齊白石), Li Keran (李可染) and Zhang Daqian (張大千). According to Bobby, Mr. Tsai’s son, his family believe that the key to being a successful collector is to assume the responsibility to share and educate others. We not only appreciated the beauty of Mr. Tsai’s collection, but the meticulous preparation and the attentive hospitality by the Tsai’s family warmed our hearts. Our group would like to express our gratitude to the tour leader, Mr. Edwin Mok, as he is a good friend of Bobby and his wife Fifi.

 The Surprising Charm from outside China: National Palace Museum, Southern Branch (16 March)

In the third day of the journey, Dr. Pei-chin Yu and Miss I-fen Huang (黃逸芬) led our members to the Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum in Chiayi. We viewed several exhibitions including “Celebrating the Year of the Dog: A Special Exhibition of Festival Themed Collections”, “Heavenly Crafted from Hindustan-A Special Exhibition of Exquisite South Asian Jades” and the like, with a guided tour by Miss Wan-hsuan Lin (林宛萱) and Miss Yu-wen Weng (翁宇雯). The first one featured canines to celebrate the Year of the Dog. It included four of Giuseppe Castiglione’s famous set of monumental hanging scrolls “Ten Fine Hounds”, which were the superstars of the show. Meanwhile, the exotic beauty of Mughal jades was beyond our expectations. Rulers of the Empire enthusiastically recruited skilled European and Persian craftsmen to provide jade carving skills. Among a wide variety of arts and crafts flourishing within Mughal Empire territory, jades became one of the brightest stars. There were 142 pieces exhibited in the show. Part One of the exhibition features jades used by the Mughal emperors and nobility in their daily lives, while Part Two explores the Qianlong emperor's aesthetic point of view through his poetry. Part Three utilizes non-Mughal Indian jades to introduce the local characteristics of Indian regional states situated outside the empire, yet still influenced by Mughal culture. Leaving the Southern Branch, Mr. Wang-Hen Wu (吳望亨) showed us the gorgeous architecture created by Taiwan’s dream team Kris Yao Artech (姚仁喜大元建築工場) before sunset.

Experiencing Rurality of Taiwan: Lanyang Museum and the National Centre for Traditional Arts in Yilan (17 March) 

We travelled to Yilan County visiting two spots favoured by local people, Lanyang Museum and the National Centre for Traditional Arts. Winning many awards including the International Architecture Awards in 2012, Lanyang Museum was built next to Wushi Harbour (烏石港) as a place where visitors can learn about the history, culture, landscape, and natural beauty of Yilan. The Director of the Museum, Dr. Bi-Lin Chen (陳碧琳), explained that the museum was designed by Kris Yao, who was inspired by local natural elements such as the cuesta, a rock-form commonly found along the northeast coast of Taiwan. The building is truly a unique design, which, at a distance, resembles a giant black rock (paying homage to Wushi Harbour, or Black Rock Harbour).  

That afternoon, we went to the National Centre for Traditional Arts located by the Dongshan River (冬山河) in Wujie Township (五結鄉). The goal of the Centre is to support and promote craftsmanship such as glass and wood crafts, and dyeing with natural ingredients. The park has become an important tourist attraction in Yilan.