Lo De-sheng, 64, worked as a sailor as a young man. Three decades ago he happened to see a Wang Yeh boat on the river, which left him awestruck and deeply moved. Living at the seaside has also frequently exposed him to the religious beliefs surrounding Wang Yeh ships — ships built as part of plague offerings to the Wang Yeh plague gods. After retiring a little over a decade ago, Lo threw himself into making miniature Wang Yeh ships. The materials he uses include scrap wood, toothpicks, resin and disposable chopsticks, applying the techniques of folding, pasting and carving to sculpt detailed, realistic ship art pieces. The amateur artist’s stunning works of art are on display for three months at the art gallery on the first floor of Greater Tainan’s Anping District Office, giving people the chance to take a closer look at these exquisite examples of traditional culture.
Born in Greater Kaohsiung’s Fengshan District, Lo moved to Anping with his mother at the age of four. He was intrigued by the craft of sculpting from an early age, initially studying how to make models of navy ships from a retired naval officer as a child.
Living on the seaside, Lo would often go to Yanshuei River at night as young man to catch fish to supplement family income. He recalls being in the river with a friend drawing the fishing net one night when it was pitch dark, and spotting faintly in the distance several pale-colored, translucent ships coming toward them. In a dim haze Lo recognized ceremonial signs and weaponry on the bow of the ship, sailors wearing ancient costumes, and steersmen rowing, while other sailors beat gongs to make announcements. Leaving an indelible impression on him, the experience sparked Lo’s lifelong interest in making Wang Yeh model ships. He started visiting temples to study the specs for making the ships. Lo also began delving into the art of making Wang Yeh model ships, studying with his father-in-law, master sculptor Chen Chao-hsin. Aside from being fastidious about dimensions and ratios, the lions with swords in their mouths — jianshi — and curled dragon motifs — panlong — are also remarkably lifelike and serve to show Lo’s superb craftsmanship.
1. awestruck adj.
震驚的 (zhen4 jing1)
例: Cameron was awestruck by the immense beauty of the landscape.
2. disposable adj.
用完即丟的 (yong4 wan2 ji2 diu1 de5)
例: We had to use a disposable camera because the battery in the digital camera was dead.
3. indelible adj.
難以去除的；擦不掉的 (nan2 yi3 qu4 chu2 de5; ca1 bu2 diao4 de5)
例: The song left me with an indelible sense of belonging.
Anping District Administrator Lin Kuo-ming says that Anping has a rich historical and cultural legacy. The architectural aesthetics and carving work on houses and temples in the past were quite demanding, which Lin says is the reason why so many traditional artisans still continue the tradition — they hope to promote the passing down of traditional artisanship and allow Anping to continue nurturing its artistic roots.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)