Thursday, August 12, 2010

China Journal Day 11 & 12 The Shanghai Museum

We continue with our China journey today! Click here to see all posts.

The flight from Yichang to Shanghai was short but interesting. Everyone was liberal with the number and size of their carry-ons, ours ended up at the back of the plane! Airline food was awful, our first class seats turned economy when they brought in a bigger plane and no refund was issued. China Eastern Airlines fared poorly in our report card.

The trip to our hotel took almost 2 hours. A Shanghai airport a security guard said to travel to Renmim Square (People's Square) then take a second bus to our hotel. We got lost finding the second one as it got dark and kind strangers offered conflicting directions. We then decided to take a cab, many were full but we finally got one for 11 RMB ($1.60 Canadian). It was close to 10 PM when we checked in so dinner was at the hotel restaurant, beef noodle soup for 20 RMB each and off to bed.

Morning came with excellent complimentary buffet breakfasts, eggs made to your desire as you wait! After a short nap, our destination for the day was the Shanghai Museum pictured below, about 15 minutes walk away. It is shaped like an ancient cooking vessel called a ding, to me it looked like a giant wok!
David felt ill and stayed behind to rest, I had less than 5 hours to explore 3 stories of galleries so I wandered swiftly. I share with you my small collection of finds here. First a delightful statue from the ceramic gallery playing a pipa, also known as a Chinese lute. Her face a peaceful expression as she performed with ease.
Nearby a single audience sat, a man with a joyful smile. Both figurines are simple in shape, there was no color, only adequate details told their story, fine examples of craftsmanship.
A lidded container with flowers on a green glaze, perhaps a lady's item? I must admit in my haste I did not take note of specimen date or purpose, I simply picked out the ones I like and captured them on camera.
Below a round shaped vessel propped on 4 legs, from this view it looked like there was only 3. Only a couple of inches wide it looked as if it could walk away, full of life and very charming.
A conical vessel in an elegant shade of pale green, its 3 handles were possibly decorated with Chinese knotting.I was absolutely fascinated by the contemporary flair of the vase below. The simple lines in 8 configurations are Taoist symbols known as the Ba Gua.
A vase in subtle crackle glaze with dark highlights on corners and raised details, an ingenious treatment on this otherwise plain looking piece.
An unassuming pottery jar that seemed to be made of metal, its handles of seashell forms captured my attention. If you look closely, you can see my hand wrapped around the camera.
Pictured below one of my favorite museum pieces, an octagon shaped vessel, its opening the shape of a 5 petal flower. This somehow has a timeless flair about it, the glaze a rich turquoise, I felt lost in its mysterious depth.
A teapot with a modern feel, I could not believe it was built many years ago. I like its enamel style glaze and could not stop starring at the handsome form.The pot below left me standing in awe. Repetitive folds covered the entire circumference, covered in the palest shade of blue, it is elegance in simplicity.
Three hand painted china stood out at the museum. This one depicted a garden setting, a scholar readied his ink for calligraphy on a table made of stone. On the right 2 young assistants carried a teapot and a tray with teacups, on the left an admirer looked on.
Two popular subjects decorated this china plate, peaches which symbolized longevity and bats that represented happiness.
A final dish covered with painted flowers, peonies in the middle surrounded with plum blossoms and butterflies. I do not know the meaning but the exquisite work blew me away.
As I looked at these shots, it occurred to me things are not made the same today, people have little patience to create such marvelous work.

Join me next week for another episode of our China trip as we continue the walk at the Shanghai Museum!


  1. Beautiful pottery, the blue glaze is exquisite. The teapot is so elegant. I look forward to the next post. Wishing you a good weekend.

  2. Ceramics! Thank you so much Novi. I personally love checking out ceramics at museums as the pieces are timeless by design and please the eyes still today. As a ceramic artist I know tends to say, when you fire a piece of ceramics it will stay forever and therewith one should carefully think what is worth firing. I am sure the ancient Chinese shared the same philosophy. These are so well thought through designs that one does not get tired admiring. I really enjoyed this post. Thanks again. Have a great day!

  3. What? You had a 1st class seat and they moved you to Economy? First time I heard of that and they did not refund you. I would have demanded that a refund immediately.

    I love museums. Hmmm ... actually I have always visited museums in all my travels. Some of the pottery pieces looked too modern to me. LOL! Any idea which era they were from?


  4. P.K.: I would love to have that teapot!

    Minami: The small finds shared here is of no comparison to the entire collection there, seeing is believing. I too would love to visit other museums around the world to 'learn' and be inspired.

    Ben and Suanne: Well, we weren't exactly moved to economy... the bigger plane they brought in didn't have first class seats, it has just economy seats so we sat in the first row. The travel agent warned it is not uncommon in China for airlines to bring in bigger planes when flights are overbooked. The tickets were purchased under the knowledge if they turned economy there would be no refund. However I still think the situation is unfair.

    We aim to visit museums when we travel too! I highly recommend the Shanghai Museum. I apologize I did not pay attention to the era of the pottery. When I walked into the museum I realized I had set aside too little time, personally I think 2 entire days would be better.