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Monthly Archives: March 2019

We spent a few hours before sundown in the Songyan cultural and creative park 松山文創園區 in Taipei. A and F joined us.

Starting our walk from the brand new Eslite Hotel right next to the Park, there was such a contrast of the new and old. Loved the hotel lobby which is designed to resemble a spacious modern library with books lining the walls and high ceiling.

The Park was based on the “Taiwan Sōtokufu Tobacco Monopoly Bureau” created during the Japanese colonial period. It was the first modernized tobacco factory in Taiwan.

After some restoration, it was taken over by the Taiwan Monopoly Bureau and renamed the “Taiwanese Provincial Tobacco and Alcohol Monopoly Bureau Songshan Plant”.

In 2001, it was appointed by the Taipei City Government as the No. 99 cultural heritage site of the city and renamed the “Songshan Cultural and Creative Park”. In 2011, it is officially opened to the public and has been transformed into a creative hub of Taiwan.

According to its website, the architectural style of the buildings belongs to the genre of “Japanese Early Modernism”, with emphasis placed on horizontal lines, simple classic shapes, and refined workmanship. The boiler room, mechanical maintenance factory, and tobacco Factory were completed in 1939, and began producing rolled tobaccos with 1200 workers.

Apparently, the Park was not designed with a commercial focus, but rather, its mission is to kindle creativity and innovation, and to be in synch with interdisciplinary development. 

We wandered into the complex and entered a number of shops that sells crafts and designed items.

Johannes Vermeer’s masterpiece reproduced by swatch tapes

Cafe and exhibition areas

Artifacts from the past. Cigarette packs and container wrappers.

Bright colored office equipment of yesteryears.

The concept of an “industrial village” was employed. Besides the production line, the benefits and needs of the plant’s employees were also taken into consideration.

With its large open spaces and courtyards, the site was a pioneering design for industrial plants at that time.

There are a number of statues in this courtyard. We are not keen on the rather tortured pose of this statue.

Nice fountain with more statues

A penguin amongst tropical flora ?

We were too late for the Taiwan Design Museum. The tropical vegetation is a nice contrast to the cool modern designs housed in the old building.

Tobacco storage barn now used as massive exhibition spaces.

Overlooking the park is the new 16-storey Eslite Hotel where we started, it looked stunning at dusk. The lights on the facade form several horizontal lines that appear to converge on the top left corner of the building. Sparkling, dynamic architecture.

Need more time here.

We spent almost a full day at the National Palace Museum (NPM) – 國立故宮博物院 which is in a suburb of Taipei. Built in the architectural style of a Chinese palace, the NPM has four stories, ornamented with corbels and colorful green tiled-roofs with yellow ridges.

A bit of history …

On Oct. 10, 1925, the NPM was officially founded to manage the Qing Imperial Possessions after the last Emperor of China abdicated. Most of the artifacts from the NPM’s collection was previously owned by the Beiping, Jehol and Shenyang (北平、熱河、瀋陽) temporary palaces. The NPM’s artifact collection comprised that inherited from the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing courts.

In fall 1948, the Communist Party of China began gaining an upper hand in the Chinese Communist Revolution. The NPM decided that the most precious artifact be transported to Taiwan and the remaining artifacts be shipped whenever possible.

Jade on display in a 2-year exhibit -實幻之間—院藏戰國至漢代玉器特展

On Dec. 21, 1948, the NPM artifacts, stored in about 500 containers were transported to Taiwan via a naval ship. A second batch of about 4000 containers arrived in January 1949 by the navy and merchant ships.

Bronze from Zhou dynasty

In 1965, the new NPM in Taipei opened to the public in the current buildings displaying artifacts including calligraphy, famous paintings, bronzes, tapestries, porcelains, jades, curios, rare books, and historical documents.

The history of the NPM follows closely modern Chinese history and it is a fascinating story. Click here to read the NPM’s official history.

Inscriptions in 32 columns of about 500 characters inside a big bronze cauldron – 毛公鼎 – 877-771 BC

Tuned bell-like musical instrument

Ancient bronze dish – to my eyes the motifs are less oriental and more pre-Columbian american – Mexican/Azetec

Below are a few that caught my attention.

We like the scholarly approach in presenting the work which has been well researched and simply explained.

There are a lot of caligraphy work – we saw a group of school children doing an assignment on various pieces on display

There is so much to see calligraphy, painting, sculpture, religious art, jade, ceramics, …

Talk about neat handwriting !

We managed to only photograph the lower half of this painting.

They really are very pleasing to the eyes.

Three pieces in the museum collection are often misrepresented as national treasures because they are very popular with museum-goers. One is the bronze cauldron 毛公鼎 with the inscription we showed above.

The other is a stone 肉形石 which was carved during the Qing dynasty from banded jasper to resemble a piece of dongpo pork 東坡肉 – braised pork with skin and layers of meat and fat.

The third is a sculpted jadeite cabbage 翠玉白菜 – known for its subtle shade of green and the insect that is camouflaged.

There was a huge shop in the museum to satisfy all tastes in souvenirs, collectibles and gifts. The intellectual properties are being monetized smartly. We spent quite a bit of time shopping and happily took home a fridge magnet in the shape of the braised fatty pork rock.

We went to the affiliated restaurant on the grounds of the museum, a nice modern place. The famous pork and cabbage are on the Silks Palace menu.

Love to spend more time here.

These are the photos I (Chris) took and posted on Facebook. The series was started in March of 2013. There is no theme – just something random and visually interesting. We gave each a title and noted where it was taken (to the extent we could remember the city).

random photo #396 – gathering – penang


random photo  #397 – moonlight – ortigia


random photo #398 – street life – catania


random photo #399 – wings of desire – taorminawings-1.jpg

random photo #400 – ascension – giardini-naxos


random photo #401 – relics – siracusa



random photo #402 – coded – budapest



random photo #403 – oh! – penang


random photo #404 – ends – miami


random photo #405 – toad – penang



If you are interested in seeing other Random Photos, click on the  random  tag on the left.
We have nothing to do with the ads below.

These are the photos I (Chris) took and posted on Facebook. The series was started in March of 2013. There is no theme – just something random and visually interesting. We gave each a title and noted where it was taken (to the extent we could remember the city).

random photo #386 – high rise – penang


random photo  #387 – decibels – penang



random photo #388 – hive – abu dhabi


random photo #389 – waves – milano


random photo #390 – untitled 3 – sao paulo

Cannot be found.

random photo #391 – 250 more or less


random photo #392 – conflagration


random photo #393 – camouflaged – langkawi


random photo #394 – shine – kuala lumpur


random photo #395 – spring time – lausanne


If you are interested in seeing other Random Photos, click on the  random  tag on the left.
We have nothing to do with the ads below.