‘Fragile Cargo’ chronicles the quest to save China’s Forbidden City treasures from war

“Fragile Cargo” documents the efforts made by curators to save China’s Forbidden City treasures from the destruction of war.

The backstory: During Japan’s invasion of China in the 1930s, which initiated the Sino-Japanese war and World War II, curators at the Forbidden City transported about 20,000 cases of artworks across China.
* The measures taken to hide the art included transportation using trucks, steamships, trains and even bamboo rafts.

Key player: Ma Heng, a central character in this history, was a Shanghai businessman, scholar, and the director of the Palace Museum. He oversaw the packing and transportation of the imperial art collections across China for 16 years.
* Ma Heng’s story is marked by complexity and tragedy. Despite his contributions, he experienced traumatic political persecution under the Communist Party’s “San Fan” campaign designed to root out corruption and control the bourgeoisie.

The journey of a masterpiece: A famous artifact, the “Jadeite Cabbage with Insects,” made a remarkable journey from mainland China to Taiwan.
* The artifact was moved to the west for safety during the war, and later sent to Taiwan as the Communist Party, under Mao Zedong, neared victory in the Chinese Civil War.

Historical perspective: The book spotlights China’s role in World War II, a narrative often minimized or overlooked in Western historical accounts, despite China’s significant contribution to the war effort and about 20 million Chinese casualties.

Shaping history: The account also draws attention to the selective writing of history, highlighting how the Chinese Communist Party has rewritten its World War II experience to serve its own narrative.

View original article on NPR

This summary was created by an AI system. The use of this summary is subject to our Terms of Service.

Contact us about this post






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *