Yang Shu-ching (楊舒晴) was inspired to create a set of rings aimed at teaching foreigners the difference between Taiwan and China after she spent a year living in Japan.
Yang, a fine arts student at National University of Tainan, said that during her time abroad, she began to miss Taiwan and its people, culture and society.
However, after talking with her Japanese friends about her country, she realized that many people in Japan do not know about Taiwan.
Many foreigners often confuse Taiwan with Thailand or China, Yang said, adding that this led her to start thinking about how she could dispel this confusion and teach people about Taiwan.
As she discussed the issue with her friends, Yang said they noted that Taiwan is the only Chinese-speaking country that uses a separate phonetic system for transcribing Chinese into English — commonly known as bopomofo (ㄅㄆㄇㄈ) — instead of romanizing the language.
Yang said it then occurred to her that the uniqueness of the system could be used to represent the difference between Taiwan and other countries in the region.
She added that while studying in Japan, she used bopomofo as a way to code messages she passed to Taiwanese classmates during class.
“A non-Taiwanese person would likely be unable to understand a message written in bopomofo even if they intercepted it by accident,” Yang said.
Yang said that she used the idea of bopomofo as a distinguishing Taiwanese feature as the theme for her graduation project.
For the project, Yang designed 38 silver rings, opting to use felt instead of gemstones. Each ring features multi-colored bits of felt tucked into double-banded silver, with bopomofo characters etched onto them.
Yang said that she chose to make the rings large to draw people’s attention to them and spread the message about Taiwan.
It was not the first time that Yang used rings to communicate a message, having previously made some in the shape of lungs and splotches to symbolize air pollution to remind people of the importance of protecting the environment.