Two things

Quite swamped at the moment, but you could probably have inferred that. I did promise myself that the blog wouldn’t suffer (too much) even when work-load surged, so here we are.

Thing one: academia (although I should not extrapolate beyond my knowledge, so this relates to academia in itself, and also collaborative work in/with/about museums) here in China really works like the bartering (or way of life?) system in “London Below” in Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Many things get done by trading favours. It is therefore important to make sure nobody gets short-changed; but since you are the little fish in a big pond, balance the efforts and returns, before deciding on “yes” or “no”.

Thing two:

To not leave things hanging, the main subject of the previous post was one of the first bills of paper money*. Its home is the National Museum of China (NMC)**, which lines one side of the square in front of Tiananmen. My friend did very well in suggesting we go at lunchtime on a weekday, for traffic (of visitors and vehicles) reasons. Our main mission was to see the Ten Masterpieces of French Paintingjointly organized by the National Museum of China (NMC) and the Réunion des musées nationaux to “commemorate the 50th founding anniversary of the diplomatic ties between China and France and mark the opening of the ninth art festival Sino-French Culture Spring“, according to the official website. One of the masterpieces is Jean Honoré Fragonard’s Le Verrou (The Bolt)***. I was listening to the audioguide supplied through WeChat on my friend’s phone, and reading the label, when I saw that the Chinese for bolt is 门闩 (men2 shuan1). Have a close-up:

I guess this is what (partially, I’m not that kind or forgiving) makes spending Saturdays in Chinese school as a child, toiling with your ideographic mother-tongue worth it. The first character (men2) stands for door; and the second character (shuan1), a door with a bar across, is the bolt. Added together, you get “door bolt”. I was totally distracted by this through the second half of the audioguide description of the painting.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who strays from the point sometimes?



*Listen to A History of the World in 100 Objects’ podcast about paper bills here.

**When I can treat the subject with more justice, I will return to my afternoon at NMoC as a whole.

***It’s usual home is the Louvre, if anybody wants to see it in person.


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