Friday, September 9, 2011

Luminous Clouds of China

I had to see it before it gets packed up and shipped back to China. The “Emperor’s Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City” had its third, and final, stop at the Milwaukee Art Museum. It had been at The Peabody Essex Museum, near Boston and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The MAM show ends in two days so my visiting the show became a now or never proposition. The carved and inlaid screens, thrones, and blue pottery were a part of an elaborate, secluded garden which was intended to be the Quinlong emperor’s retirement man space. The two-acre garden is located in the 180-are Forbidden City complex. As it turned out, the emperor passed the kingdom over to his son and retired closer to the center of action, never using the garden retreat. The Quinlong garden has remained unaltered since the end of his reign in 1795. Things I learned: pine, bamboo, and plum blossoms are called the Three Friends of Winter, Luoan is an enlightened disciple of Buddha, and the name of my home office has become the Studio of Exhaustion from Diligent Service (the name of a location where one of the meticulously restored screens came from).  A fascinating show. Oh, I took the photo in the hall outside the exhibit since every time I tried to take a quick snap of any of the cool pieces, the museum docents would threaten to toss me out.

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