Japan: Thousands see Taiwan's 'Meat-Shaped Stone'

Taiwan's meat-shaped stone Image copyright National Palace Museum
Image caption Possibly the world's most valuable artistic rendering of a piece of stewed pork

One of Taiwan's more bizarre national treasures is returning home after an exhibition drew thousands of visitors in Japan.

Nearly 84,000 people came to see the famous Meat-Shaped Stone, which was on display at Japan's Kyushu National Museum in the southern city of Fukuoka, the United Daily News reports. The daily average of 5,995 visitors was somewhat lower than a previous exhibition in Tokyo featuring Taiwan's Jadeite Cabbage, which drew 21,000 people per day. But organisers put this down to the Kyushu Museum being less convenient for those wanting to travel to see the meaty treasure.

One of Taiwan's most revered artefacts, the Meat-Shaped Stone is a piece of jasper, carved and dyed to resemble a chunk of stewed pork. According to the National Palace Museum, the craftsman "took the rich natural resources of this stone and carved it with great precision... the veining and hair follicles making the piece appear even more realistic." Carved in jadeite, the cabbage was made during the Qing dynasty, and comes complete with two insects on its leaves. Its display in Tokyo caused a minor diplomatic row after organisers were reluctant to use the word "national" in publicity material, in case it caused offence to Beijing. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory.

Concerns for the Meat-Shaped Stone's safety mean that the Taiwanese museum has kept its travel plans a closely guarded secret. But it's known that it had to undergo a 24-hour period of motionless after it had been packed before it was allowed to travel.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption An earlier display featuring the Jadeite Cabbage caused a minor diplomatic row

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