Sat, Jun 09, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Farmer attempts to revive lost Hakka handicrafts

By Shen Chi-chang  /  Staff reporter

Tu Lung-chen, 83, shows off a Hakka-style bamboo woven basket in Bade Village in Taoyuan County’s Longtan Township on May 24.

Photo: Shen Chi-chang, Taipei Times

An elderly farmer born in a Hakka village in Taoyuan County is making an effort to revive the lost handicraft techniques of Hakka culture by recreating farm tools using ancient techniques.

Tu Lung-chen (涂龍珍), 83, comes from Bade Village (八德) in the county’s Longtan Township (龍潭), where he showcases a number of Hakka-style bamboo woven farm implements that he has made himself from childhood memories.

The works displayed in front of the 83-year-old’s farmhouse include baskets, creels and dustpans both in normal size and in miniature captivating throngs of local villagers eager to take one home with them.

“In previous times, even young children had the skills to fabricate these traditional bamboo woven agricultural tools, but in the wake of the growing development of the plastic industry [in Taiwan,] such ancient techniques gradually receded into oblivion,” Tu said.

Tu said that his decision to restore the age-old manual skills came during his visit to a Hakka relic exhibition, where he saw a collection of antique bamboo woven farming implements, most of which he had once made as a child.

“When I arrived home, I started trying to recreate the farm tools I had seen and found myself successfully weaving all the items I had seen,” Tu said.

All of Tu’s handiworks are made of blowpipe bamboo strips and without the use of a single nail, a manufacturing process that requires a lot of time and arduous effort. A miniature item can take as long as one day to complete.

Fan Hsiu-lan (范秀蘭), Tu’s daughter-in-law, said her father-in-law is truly gifted to be able to hand weave something she and her children can not envisage ever learning to make.

“Bamboo weaving is an invaluable traditional technique passed down by our ancestors, which is why every piece of [Tu’s] finished work is priceless,” Fan said.

Fan said that out of her father-in-law’s concern that weaving skills may not be passed down to the next generation, all of his works are not to be sold, but given away for free.

In addition, the 83-year-old is willing to hold free classes to teach the crafting skills to anyone who has the desire to learn them, Fan added.

Translated by Stacy Hsu, staff writer

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