One of the two parts of a treasured Chinese brush painting is on its way from Zhejiang Province, China, to Taiwan, where it will be reunited with the rest of the painting for an exhibition at the National Palace Museum.
The painting, titled Dwelling in the Fu Chun Mountains (富春山居圖), was created by Yuan Dynasty artist Huang Gong-wang (黃公望). Just over 300 years later, in 1651, the painting was almost destroyed. The then-owner loved it so much it he attempted to burn it so he would it have in the afterworld when he died. A nephew was able to rescue the painting, but it had already come apart.
The first half, retitled The Broken Mountains, stayed in private hands until after World War II, when it ended up at the Zhejiang Provincial Museum.
The longer section had several owners before becoming part of the imperial collection under the Qianlong emperor and after the 1911 revolution it became part of the collection at the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City.
The longer section ended up in Taiwan, with many of the Palace Museum treasures, when the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949.
The painting drew attention in both China and Taiwan when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) said last year he hoped the painting could be “reunited,” implying his desire for the unification of Taiwan and China.
The painting will be on display from June 1 through Sept. 5.
After the Taipei exhibition, there will not be a reciprocal exchange with Zhejiang.
The National Palace Museum fears any national treasures it might send for exhibition in China could be seized by the authorities and it has said it will not lend anything unless it receives a guarantee from the Chinese government that it will be returned.
China claims ownership of all of the Palace Museum pieces that were brought to Taiwan by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) at the end of the war.