Yeh Ching-yi (葉經義), an 82-year-old master carpenter and carver, was honored with the National Craft Achievement Award on Saturday for his contributions to Taiwanese woodcarving.
Yeh was 15 when he began learning the craft from Su Shui-chin (蘇水欽), master of the Quanzhou carving style.
Just two months into his apprenticeship, he displayed his artistic gifts in his debut work — wooden figures for the Daitian Temple (代天宮) in Kaohsiung representing characters from the classical Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Yeh’s carvings, which are known for their realism, combine the fundamental elements of the style with his own distinctive flair.
His work, including statues of Buddha, temple decorations, Chinese screens, flowers, birds and shrines, can be found around the world.
Yeh’s eldest son, Yeh Kuang-chou (葉光洲), received the award from Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) on behalf of his father, who was in a wheelchair next to him, as he has speech and mobility problems.
Cheng thanked the craftsman for showing the world the beauty of Taiwanese woodcarvings.
“A few years ago, my father told me that his biggest regret in life was not having won this award yet, but today his wish has come true, which makes him extremely happy, although he is not able to say so,” Yeh Kuang-chou told the audience at a ceremony hosted by the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute.
Thanks to Yeh Ching-yi’s work on several reconstruction projects on historical relics, many old temples and buildings have been given a second life, such as the Five Concubines Temple (五妃廟) and the Wang Clan Ancestral Temple (王姓大宗祠) in Tainan, the City God Temple (舊城城隍廟) in Kaohsiung’s Zuoying District (左營) and the Longshan Temple (龍山寺) in the Fengshan District (鳳山), the Lin Family Mansion and Garden in New Taipei City’s Banciao District (板橋) and the Red House Theater (紅樓劇場) in Taipei’s Ximending (西門町) area.
Yeh Ching-yi’s reputation extends beyond Taiwan. In 1991, he was invited by Shimizu Corp, a Japanese architectural and civil engineering firm, to help restore the throne, bed and litter of the Ryukyu Kingdom rulers who lived in Shurijo Castle in what is now Naha, Okinawa.
The remains of the castle were largely destroyed in the Battle of Okinawa in World War II, but a restoration project begun in the early 1990s to rebuild the structures and interiors.
The stone walls and building foundations of the castle are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Yeh Ching-yi’s work at the castle, along with several Japanese temples, helped raise the global profile of Taiwanese woodcarving.
“Most people only know that the main pillar used in the reconstruction of the main hall of Shurijo castle in 1992 was made from Taiwanese cypress grown in Yilan County, but no Taiwanese know that the throne, bed and litter displayed in the castle were also made by a Taiwanese craftsman,” Yeh Kuang-chou said.
“Not even Japanese [know that], because they all think the works were done by craftsman from Japan,” he said.
Sadly, seven of the rebuilt castle structures, including the main hall, were destroyed in a fire on Oct. 31, he added.
Proposed legislation in the US outlines three conditions in which Washington would be authorized to protect Taiwan were China to invade, a report said yesterday. US Representative Ted Yoho this month said he would introduce a Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act, which would authorize US military force if China were to invade Taiwan-controlled areas, including its outlying islands. According to a version of the bill obtained by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times), the bill lists three conditions in which a US president would be authorized to use military force to protect Taiwan: If China uses military force
Two new commuter trains are scheduled to be launched in January next year, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said yesterday. The acquisition of EMU-900 commuter train cars is part of the railway operator’s plan to replace 589 train cars that have been in operation for more than three decades. The agency has also placed orders to buy 600 intercity train cars. The first batch of 20 EMU-900 cars is to be delivered to the nation in September, although delivery might be delayed until October due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said. The batch would be formed into two trains of 10
The Supreme Court on Tuesday found four men guilty of attempted murder in the 2017 stabbing of Spanish surfer Ignacio Prio on a Pingtung County beach in the final ruling in the case, sentencing them to three-and-a-half to six years in prison. The defendants had appealed their convictions for attempted murder in the first and second rulings, which had also led to prison sentences ranging from three-and-a-half years to six years. The then-42-year-old Prio went to Jialeshui Beach (佳樂水) near Kenting (墾丁) on March 31, 2017, was attacked after he asked four men to remove their fishing lines from an area
MEDICINAL HERB: The FRIL protein extracted from hyacinth beans helped laboratory mice survive H1N1 infection and effectively neutralized the coronavirus A protein isolated from hyacinth beans, a medicinal herb known for centuries, has been found to restrict the activities of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses in laboratory experiments, a team of Academia Sinica researchers said yesterday. The beans’ curative effect is documented in the 16th-century Chinese medicine classic Compendium of Materia Medica (本草綱目) and they are also a food source in some countries, the Genomics Research Center’s Chemical Biology Division Director Alex Ma (馬徹) told a news conference in Taipei. Center senior research specialist Jan Jia-tsrong (詹家琮) experimented with up to 500 medicinal herbs to see if they could restrict influenza viruses and