Festival celebrates woodworking culture in Miaoli

By Jason Pan  /  Staff writer

Sat, Sep 28, 2013 - Page 3

Several international and Taiwanese artists are to present their award-winning works this weekend at the 2013 Sanyi International Woodcarving Art Festival in Miaoli County.

Artists and entries from Austria, Australia, China, England, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, South Korea and Spain, are joining Taiwanese practitioners of the craft in Sanyi Township (三義) to compete for prizes in the wood sculpturing competition, festival organizers said.

Sanyi Township Mayor Hsu Wen-ta (徐文達) welcomed visitors to take part in the festival, which begins today and runs until Oct. 13.

“The woodcarving culture in Sanyi goes back nearly 100 years. Timber production, the camphor oil industry and the artisan craftsmen tradition provided the basis for this area’s development and success as the ‘woodcarving capital of Taiwan.’ So we must pass on the tradition to the young generation,” Hsu said at the press briefing on Tuesday.

“At the festival, we have invited 20 woodcarving masters to demonstrate their skills by working with their tools to produce wood sculptures. Street performances, art exhibitions and a variety of entertainments will be presented throughout the festival weekends,” Hsu added.

At the launch event, artist Chen Tung-ming (陳東明) worked on a block of agilawood (沉香木). As he chipped away with handheld carving knives and chisels, the agilawood gave off its incense-like fragrance.

Agilawood is very rare in Taiwan’s forests, and the block was purchased from a supplier who imported it from Southeast Asia, Chen said.

He noted that the most common materials used for carving in Taiwan these days are wood from Taiwan red cypress and camphor trees.

“Now these are protected species and we do not go into the mountains to chop these trees down. Wood merchants are also prohibited from cutting them. So where do we get them? It is all thanks to typhoons,” Chen said.

“When a typhoon hits Taiwan, it brings heavy rain and flash floods that wash down lots of trees and timber materials from the mountains, and they are carried down by rivers to the lower plains area. This is classified as driftwood. Local government offices regulate the trade by issuing licenses to registered operators, and we can buy them. So most of the carving these days comes from driftwood materials,” he said.

For visitors attending the festival over the next three weekends, the organizers have set up regular shuttle bus at 20-minute intervals, starting from Sanyi Railway Station to the various program venues.

The bus will also make stops at several tourist attractions in the area, including the Old Mountain Line Railway (台鐵舊山線), the Longteng Earthquake Collapse Bridge (龍騰斷橋) and Shengsing Railway Station (勝興火車站).

More information on the events and activities can be accessed on the official Chinese-language Web site www.sanyi-woodcarving.com.tw.