Friday, March 27, 2009

Handicrafts Institute and Lukang

Wednesday my good friend Joel Haas, artist and confirmed Taiwanophile, met up with me in Taichung for a trip out to the wilds of Changhua to enjoy the Central Taiwan Handicrafts Research Institute, and then over to Lukang to visit some of the city's tourists sites.

Our first stop was Tsaotun, an entirely forgettable place between Changhua and Taichung, to visit the handicraft institute. Here in Tsaotun is a house of worship.

The grounds of the institute overlook Nantou city.

Joel and Lya, who works at the handicraft store in downtown Taichung, and who spoke perfect English and proved to be enjoyable and informative.

The institute is located on the former grounds of a vo-tech high school. It is funded by the Council for Cultural Affairs.

Our first stop was the bamboo workshop. Like the other workshops, on weekends it hosts classes. There is also a market on the street in front of the institute.

My son tries out the rubber band gun.

One of work areas. On the wall in the back hang flat panels of bamboo.... practice one's carving skills on.

A tray of teacups.

Give a boy a rubber band gun, and you merely have acts of transient vandalism. Teach a boy to make his own rubber band gun, and you create a juvenile delinquent.

Next stop was the sumptuous lacquerware work area.

Where dyes and varnishes were set up for the artist and teacher.

A shot of the grounds.

Another important handicraft in Taiwan is indigo dyeing. Indigo from locally-grown indigo plants was a major export in the 19th century.

Here my wife talks with one of the dyers.

The metalshop, which we only spent a few minutes in, was followed by the glass area.

Musicians, in glass.

One of the instructors showed us how to make a glass bead. Here she preheats sticks of glass.

Next she melts them in a strong flame.

Constantly turning, several colors of glass are added.

The bead takes shape.

Next we visited the potter's workshop, where the potter was hard at work on a Buddha statue.

The fruits of hard labor.

Our visit ended with a visit to the exhibition of Thai and Taiwan commercial products inspired by handicraft designs.

We grabbed lunch on Rd. 14 over through Changhua, which may have the most betel nut girls per kilometer of any road on the island. Yes, as the pic shows, it is election time again.

In Lukang we visit the Wen Wu Temple, which I have about 10,000 images of, and then drove over to the Tien Hou Gong, the city's magnificent Matsu Temple. Outside the temple, there apparently being a regulation that requires an unceasing night market near the gate of every major tourist site, were sold numerous items of dubious pedigree and uncertain usefulness, such as this suit of traditional raingear.

Traditional Lukang specialties.

Not traditional, but not uncommon.

One of the vendors outside the temple. As Joel remarked, it was good to know that we had something to use against werewolves in case it became necessary.

At the temple a procession was being prepared.

A line of men passed the statues of deities bucket brigade style.... the waiting coach.

The deities then paraded in front of the temple door.

Video: Parading in front of the temple.

Video: marching off....

After the Matsu temple we went over to one of the most beautiful and venerable temples on the island, the Lungshan Temple in Lukang.

The temple still has many old fittings, and has not been redone in a bright, kitschy color scheme even though it was damaged in 9/21. The result is a building that has an easygoing, contented austerity.

One of the statues near the main entrance.

Many of the old paintings and other decorations are still visible.

The placards behind the chatting people show how the temple was renovated.

"Why couldn't we have a Dad who was into sports instead of old temples?"

After Lukang, we returned to Taichung and enjoyed an hour at the Science Museum before heading over to Little India. A most satisfying day.....

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Anonymous said...

Beautiful close-up shot of the bead, Michael.

Fili said...

Terrific post. Just the way I like'em. ^_^

Tom said...

Thanks for the nice post. I was reminded of the rubber band gun my father made for me. The rubber bands were strips of car tire inner tubes. Cheap but good toys from the days of Davey Crockett.