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Taiwan

Exploring Traditional Arts and Crafts in Taiwan

Do you enjoy going to museums, visiting art exhibitions, or discovering Taiwanese traditional culture when traveling? If it is a Yes, lucky you, we are setting off to Taiwan for those art lovers! In Taiwan, the Chinese and Japanese influence on traditional Taiwanese arts and crafts can be found easily. Now, MyProGuide will take you on a crafty tour!

Release your own lantern in Pingxi

Paper lanterns are mostly associated with Asia culture, which are common in China, Korea, VietnamThailandMyanmar, and Sri Lanka. When it comes to paper lanterns, they are often released into the sky during the night. One of the popular festivals in Taiwan is the Lantern festival taking place in the Pingxi district. Pingxi District, an important coal mining town in the early 20th century, is a rural district in New TaipeiTaiwan.

It’s said to have one of the most breathtaking spectacles in Taiwan. However, apart from its stunning natural sites, this district is famous for the Lantern Festival celebrated during February. Every year, thousands of tourists travel to Pingxi for its annual Lantern Festival, and write down their wishes on those paper lanterns, then release them into the sky. Mostly are in hopes for good luck and good fortune. Yet you can write down or draw anything you want on the paper lanterns. This is when all the magic happens, as the sky is filled up the sky with those glowing lanterns carrying many hopes and wishes.

Watch a Taiwanese opera

By Winertai – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Taiwanese opera(歌仔戲), also known as Ke-Tse opera in Taiwanese language, is a traditional drama form popular in Taiwan. It can often be found outdoors or indoors in a theater. The language used is a combination of both literary and Taiwanese Hokkien. Don’t worry if you don’t understand what the actors or actresses are saying, Taiwanese operas wins the heart of an audience by its lingering music, delicate sculpture, and lively performances. This traditional art form originates from adopting the elements of folk songs mainly from Zhangzhou, Fujian, China.

Later on, Taiwanese opera was later exported to other Hokkien-speaking areas. In the beginning performances used folk stories from Fujian province, after using stories that were set in Taiwan such as the difficult living situations at the time. All in all, not only does the story help preserve the historical events in the island, but also act as a reminder about the cultural heritage of Taiwan. Representing the history and traditions, Taiwanese opera is a must do for those history fans.

This is not an ordinary umbrella: Oil-paper umbrellas in Meinong

(Credit: formosaimage)

We all know the purpose of an umbrella, it can protect us from the sun and avoid getting wet from the rain. However, there are some umbrellas found in Taiwan can also be used as a decoration! Oil-paper(油紙傘) has been the cultural representation of the Hakka in Meinong, a district in Kaohsiung. As the name implied, oil is coated repeatedly after the painting process.

The purpose of the oil is to make it waterproof and last longer, solid and durable. The body part of the umbrella is mainly made from bamboo sticks, which are from places such as Puli, Nantou County and the Qishan District in Kaohsiung. Painted with traditional calligraphy, vivid colors and traditional paintings, oil paper umbrellas are definitely worthy to check it out when travel to Kaohsiung.

A live art show on the street: traditional sugar people in Lukang

(Credit: kknews)

Sugar people (糖人) is a traditional Chinese form of art using hot, liquid sugar to create figures. The figures are mostly with distinguish colors: brownish-yellow or, y with yellow or green. Figures comes in all kinds including animals such as roosters, dragons and pigs, and the matching objects such as spears. With a history over a hundred years, the highlight of this art form is that it is practiced in public places.

Traditionally, artists set up their and stand and sale it at markets, or in areas near schools since it often attracts kids. These days, this art form is practiced mostly in tourist areas. For example, the Lukang Old Street in Changhua, is quite famous for this traditional art form. Reminder: Though it is called sugar people, it’s mainly for decoration, or simply for fun, but not edible!

Have a paper cut silhouette in the night markets

Silhouette is an image of a person, animal, or any object. Though popular worldwide, it’s a particular art form in Taiwan. Yet this traditional art form originates from the Song Dynasty. Some use paper cut as a gifts or decorations. In the Southern Song Dynasty, there have been artists who have taken this as a profession. In Taiwan, there are some artists doing paper cut silhouette in night markets. Next time if you come across any, do one! It won’t take long, it would be a nice and cheap souvenir.

When it comes to traveling in Taiwan, you might have already known where to visit: Taipei 101, Shilin Night Market, and maybe the Elephant Mountain. However, after visiting those famous attractions, don’t forget to check out Pingxi for the lanterns, Lukang Old Street, watch a Taiwanese Opera, buy an oil paper umbrella in Meinong……there are so many fun things to yet to discover!

Credit of cover photo: tsaiian on flickr