When I first starting thinking about writing this article, I came up with several ideas. At first, I wanted to give the article a sense of mystic and intrigue, but lets face it I am not Herman Melville, and why would I want to be? Then, I tried writing it like an information piece, but in the end it sounds like a term paper. I was just about to give up, when I decided to revert back to myself and just write it without thinking about too much.
This post is about a wood sculpture museum I just visited for the third time on my travels. The museum is just 2 1/2 hours south of Taipei or 1/2 hour north of Taichung is a little town called Sanyi. The town is located in the mountainous area where they take old camphor trees and roots, and wood carve masterpieces like the one shown above.
Before I proceed with the article, let me backup and tell how I got to know about this museum. When I was younger, I thought I wanted to know how to speak Chinese for some apparent reason, so I went out and looked for a place in Seattle where I could do a language exchange. The place I ended up choosing decided to put me with a Taiwanese person where I spent most of my time having English conversation because I was lazy in learning Chinese. The place I chose was basically done on a quarterly system, so once the quarter was over we would split ways. Towards the end of the session, he told me to come to Taiwan. At first I did not even know where Taiwan was on the map, and I also thought he was talking about Thailand. So, when my wife and I were on our round-the-world trip as I mentioned in my about me, we found a flight that would take us to this island. Of course I saw my friend, but I also travel around the island a bit, and one day I was reading my guide book when it mentioned this museum. My wife and I were in Taichung at the time, so we decided to go see it. We were blown away with the level of craftsmanship of the exhibits, the surrounding area, and the wood carvers that were in the area doing what they loved. I enjoyed this museum so much that since that first time, I have been back two other times to see which exhibits have changed. This museum also happens to be one of the reasons why I became a woodworker today.
Now that I have told you the back story, let us get back to the post. I am not going to tell you the history of the area because you can read about it here, but I am going to show you videos and some photos that might entice you to go. The museum is tastefully done and is well laid out, so you do not get lose your way. However, you might lose your mind with the level of detail that each sculptor put into each of the pieces. Each time I have gone to the museum they have changed the pieces, and after speaking with someone at the museum, it apparently changes out exhibits every two months on the fourth and basement floors (which is a good enough reason to keep going back in my opinion). They also host the winners of the wood carving competition, as well as show that year entries before making the decision who will be the winner.
The museum also displays more than just wood sculptures. It sometimes hosts exhibits in stone, metal and ceramic like when I was there this time shown in the video#2
In part 2, I will be writing about:
A wood sculpture competition that pays out a whopping 500.000nt (15,110usd) ever year.
A typical store that had a piece worth 12,000,000nt (362,737usd).
Possible workshops and apprenticeships.
How to get there and cost to get there from Taipei and Taichung.
-- The Gringo Woodworker, http://www.thegringowoodworker.com