Wonderful Shanghai Museum
04 July 2012
The major museum in the city is a huge collection of important treasures from all over China, housed in a relatively new building. Yes it was busy – this is still China – but it’s so well managed that you never feel crowded. And it is free!
A cong is a jade tube which is square on the outside, with a round hole. The juxtaposition of the square earth and the circle of heaven is common in Chinese symbology, and is reflected in the design of the museum itself. This one has pin sharp edges incised into the hard white jade, which is difficult to grind or cut even with modern metal blades. It was made in eastern China somewhere around 3000 BC, and nobody knows how it was done. It is exquisitely beautiful.
The museum has a great array of these jades plus extraordinary bronzes dating from 2000 to 0 BC. And furniture of the Ming and Qing dynasties, costumes and pieces from the many minority peoples of China, a detailed history of currency and much, much more. It needed far more time than we (or our feet) could manage.
A friend (thanks, Mike) had also said the Museum has a great shop. That’s true, and a lovely black silk jacket with a silver lining joined us for the next stage of our adventures.