Two this morning, two this afternoon. It was a day for an early start, comfortable shoes and as much energy as we could muster. Fortunately, our heroes were able to secure places in David’s group once more and so we presented ourselves bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready for the off.
Sure enough, the day had dawned bright and clear. It was going to be a warm one! The people of Shanghai had got their washing out early and were, as David said, “flying the international flag”! Actually, there were garments and bedding all over the place, hanging from lamp posts, electricity cables and laid out on bushes. There really is washing everywhere here.
The traffic wasn’t too bad at this early hour and we arrived at our first stop, the Shanghai Museum before it opened. We’d been here before, on our last visit, and remembered the place as being spectacular. We were really looking forward to visiting it again.
First, though, we took a stroll in the Peoples Park, where we’d been last night, actually. This delightful couple were practising their ballroom dancing, to music played from a small speaker in a carrier bag. They smiled shyly as we applauded at the end of their dance and gathered their things and went off to wherever they were going.
Once in the Museum, we were not disappointed, for it was every bit as good as we’d remembered. Spectacular exhibits, beautifully displayed in well lit cases where the light increased as we approached and dimmed once again as we moved on.
So much to see, we decided we’d focus on our favourite things. First, the calligraphy.
We both loved the black, red and white of the pieces and the way the carved letters were displayed along with rubbings or prints of the stones.
Some were incredibly old. This piece, above, was transcribed when William the Conqueror was alive and is so fine and even in tone and weight, it took our breath away.
Next, we took a look at the seals. Here, once more, they were well displayed, and though they are attractive, we don’t understand enough about them to be able to discriminate between the various styles and genres. There were clear handouts to take away in English, explaining the finer points, but there wasn’t time to stand and read them. We still had more to see.
Our final stop was the Bronze gallery, where there was a wonderful collection of Shang dynasty vessels which were remarkably similar to my favourite one at Compton Verney. The wealth of pattern and texture, not to mention the incredible shapes of these treasures would have kept us interested for a week!
How about this one? Small creatures in the bowl make for such an interesting piece and the light was spot on – not too bright but bright enough to highlight the detail. Amazing.
As we were leaving I spotted this little group of bells and heard them being played over a small loudspeaker, so I stood and recorded the charming and very Chinese sound. So evocative of the place.
After a brief stop in the Museum shop – one well worth visiting for the beautiful things they have on offer – we made our way through the bustling Shanghai streets to our next stop.
I’ll write about that in my next post.