Seven folk arts masters, from hand puppetry, Taiwanese opera, comic dialogue, seal engraving to lionhead-making, were honored by the Taipei City Government yesterday for their persistence and dedication in preserving traditional arts.
The inaugural Taipei City Master of Traditional Arts Awards were presented by Taipei City's Department of Cultural Affairs to give public recognition to the artists and promote the traditional arts.
One of the masters who received an award, Chen Xi-huang (陳錫煌), is the son of legendary puppeteer Li Tien-lu (李天祿). Hsu Wang (許王) and Chung Jen-pi (鍾任壁), who also won awards, have all played key roles in the history of hand puppet shows in Taiwan with their lifelong dedication to making hand puppets and the study of hand puppet performances.
Another artist, 65-year-old Liao Te-liang (廖德良), is well-known for his exquisite seal engraving works. Studying the art of engraving seals since the age of 18, Liao blended the techniques he learned from different schools and also became an accomplished stone appraiser over the years.
Liao said seal engraving is a disappearing craft as it requires a lot of physical strength and fine stones are becoming harder to find.
“I still cut my hands sometimes when engraving the seal, and few people want to endure the hardship and learn the skills nowadays. We need to try harder to preserve this traditional art,” he said, urging the government to put more effort into the promotion of traditional arts.
Other artists who received awards included Chen Sheng (陳剩), a famous Taiwanese opera performer, 96-year-old lion head maker Hong Lai-wang (洪來旺) and Wu Zhao-nan (吳兆南), a cross-talk master.
An exhibition on the works of the seven masters is being held at the Ximen Red House from 11am to 9pm until April 23. The Department of Cultural Affairs will also invite different awarded masters to share their experience with the public on Saturdays from April 17 to June 26 at Taipei Cultural Center.
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