China Red Sandalwood Museum, the nation's first and largest private museum, will send a selection of its treasured red sandalwood furniture and sculptures for display at Taipei 101, the financial center in Taiwan.
Entitled Secret of Red Sandalwood, the exhibition, showcasing the culture of home decoration in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties and the craftsmanship of red sandalwood furniture making, will be on from Sept 27 and will last for three months.
Red sandalwood is one of the most precious timbers on earth. A sandalwood tree can only grow one-third of a meter in 500 years, and up to 90 percent of mature trees are hollow and not suitable for making furniture. Therefore, as the old saying goes, "it grows an inch a century and an inch has the value of pure gold of similar size".
Founded in September 1999 by Chan Laiwa, who was named the richest woman on the Chinese mainland by Forbes magazine, China Red Sandalwood Museum's collection is impressive. The museum, spread over 9,569 sq m, has more than 300 pieces of precious red sandalwood furniture from the Ming and Qing dynasties on display. Some 2,000 pieces have come from Chan's workshop next to the museum over the past years.
Struck by the exquisite beauty of red sandalwood furniture in her aristocratic Manchu family home as a child, Chan's passion for them grew early on. "The museum is a place to showcase the treasures, to inherit and pass on the unique culture and art of red sandalwood," says the 68-year, who prefers to be called the curator of the museum.
"It is not just a kind of wood, but an art form that is one of the best examples of Chinese culture and traditions. It will thrive forever. And I am looking forward to the Taipei exhibition where Taiwanese people would get a glimpse of the treasures from the mainland," she adds.
Over the past 10 years, Chan's collection has toured around the world, including a display in the Aichi Expo in Japan in 2005. She also donated pieces to Beijing's Palace Museum, the Smithsonian Institute in the United States, the British Museum in London, the Dresden Museum in Germany and the Chateau de Chambord in France.
The Taipei exhibition also celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Red Sandalwood Museum. In addition, The Red Sandalwood Marriott Executive Apartments opened last Saturday to mark the anniversary. Built north of the elegant, traditionally ornate museum, the luxury apartments complete Chan's Red Sandalwood Complex in Beijing's eastern suburb of Tongzhou.