Torn Ancient China Painting Joined in Taiwan


One of China's best-known ancient paintings, torn into two parts in the 17th century, was shown in its entirety in Taiwan Wednesday for the first time in more than 360 years.

China and Taiwan have one part each, and the fact that the two could be joined together for the first time in generations symbolized a broader trend of closer ties across the Taiwan Strait, officials said.

"It's very much like destiny," said Zhao Hongzhu, the head of the Communist party in east China's Zhejiang province, the home of the mainland bit of the ancient piece of art, known as "Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains".

"The exhibition is a critical step forward for cultural exchanges between the two sides," said Zhao, who had accompanied his half of the painting across the Strait.

The painting, which is more than 600 years old, was partly destroyed in about 1650 when its owner, a rich collector, ordered it burned.

This was shortly before his death, and experts have speculated he was hoping to take it with him to the afterlife.

The collector's nephew managed to salvage most of the painting, but not before it was torn in two, and for the next three and a half centuries they were never reunited.

Wednesday's event at Taipei's National Palace Museum came a little more than three years after China-friendly politician Ma Ying-jeou became the island's president, ushering in a period of warmer relations with the mainland.

Despite the improved ties, hopes in the mainland that the Taipei museum would loan its larger section of the painting were unlikely to be realized any time soon.

Taipei fears it would not be returned by Beijing, which still considers the island part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

The National Palace Museum boasts more than 655,000 artifacts spanning 7,000 years from the Neolithic period to the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.

They were removed from a Beijing museum in the 1930s to prevent them falling into the hands of invading Japanese troops and were taken to Taiwan by the Nationalists as they fled communist forces on the mainland.

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