Move to Main Content
Mobile Menu Button

A Gathering of Treasures in the National Palace Museum North and South

  • #Jades


Savoring a Taste of Life: Cabbages of Jade 

Chinese cabbage and bok choy are vegetables that originated in Asia and became a common source of food. In Chinese art, cabbage appeared as a subject in painting as early as the Song dynasty. As for their observation, artists went so far as to include insects resting or nibbling on the leaves, or flying and jumping in a garden, giving the scenes life and vitality while conveying the idea of harmony and co-existence in nature. Later, however, the cabbage would take on different meanings for different people! Rulers would see the cabbage as a symbol reminding them of self-reflection, for to receive the bounty of nature means to ensure that people are also fed and clothed, not lacking the basic necessities of life. Scholars came to view the cabbage as representing lofty ambitions instead of the vain pursuit of fame and fortune, finding satisfaction with what they already have. The ultimate expression of all was the ingenious skill of artisans who did not see the imperfections of jade as an impediment, instead using them and the gradations of white and green with but one goal in mind: to present the purity of cabbage to symbolize the chastity of a bride, wishing her numerous descendants and prosperity.


This stage in the exhibition of "A Gathering of Treasures in the National Palace Museum North and South" features works on the subject of cabbage, the star of the show being "Jadeite Cabbage." All are hereby invited to savor a taste of life and to share in these memories of beauty!