Sat, Oct 13, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Wu Chih-hung recounts life in diverse trades

By Wen Yu-te and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Self-taught tailor, photographer and musical instrument maker Wu Chih-hung plays the erhu in Chiayi County on Aug. 15.

Photo: Wang Shan-yen, Taipei Times

From tailor to photographer to luthier, 79-year-old Wu Chih-hung’s (吳志宏) many skills and hobbies have allowed him to live a life of great variety.

Wu said he taught himself the basics of cutting fabric shortly after graduating from Chiayi Vocational High School and opened a bespoke tailor shop that flourished in Chiayi City.

He would send cloth for coats to be finished while his wife sewed the pants.

However, with the introduction of machine-made suits, he set down his scissors and closed his shop, turning to another hobby — photography.

Wu read and taught himself techniques using light and shadow, and how to compose photographs.

During his time as a photographer, he won many awards and in 1984 one of his works was selected by the Taipei Fine Arts Museum for a collection.

Wu said that about 10 years ago, he remembered how joyous he felt as a child playing the erhu — a two-stringed bowed instrument that a member of a band playing traditional beiguan (北管) music let him use at a local temple.

Wu said he decided on the spot to start making stringed instruments.

In 2010 he was awarded a patent by the Intellectual Property Office for a three-stringed instrument that he said produces sounds four scales lower than what the erhu can.

Wu said his method of creating instruments was simple.

He hollowed out a piece of wood or used a coconut shell and affixed two wooden slats before stringing it, he said.

It is possible to make one per day and “it is not very hard if one is interested,” Wu said.

In Wu’s home, instruments of various sizes hang on the walls.

Wu said he happily gifts instruments to people who he feels have contributed to a congenial conversation.

Wu said his rule to living a full life is to “read more books, make things yourself and meet friends of a like mind and interest.”

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