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Stucco and Plasterwork Technique Preserver | Lee Ching-hai

  • Date:2024-02-29
Lee Ching-hai

Chinese Name: 李清海

Born: 1941

Place of Birth: Kinmen


Did You Know That…?

Lee Ching-hai was the recipient of the 3rd Kinmen Cultural Awards in 2019. In 2022, he was recognized by the Ministry of Culture (MOC) as a preserver of important cultural heritage (stucco and plasterwork technique). 



Lee Ching-hai is a master in stucco work. When he was 20 years old, he met his mentor Lee Si-ruei (李錫蚋) from Kinmen, and learned traditional construction methods. Then, he participated in various projects, including the construction and maintenance of temples and traditional houses. Along the way, he picked up several traditional techniques such as the methods of making “swallowtail ridges (燕尾脊)” and “horsebacks (馬背).” Later, he struck out on his own and took charge of monument restoration projects, including the cases of Shanhou Folk Culture Village (山后民俗村), Zhuzi Shrine (朱子祠), and Shuangli Temple (雙鯉古地廟), covering almost all of the traditional houses in Kinmen.


Lee is known for making roof ridges. By creating smooth curves on the ridges and forming swallowtails at the end of the roofs, he skillfully demonstrates the architectural aesthetics of Tong’an District (同安) across the Taiwan Strait. He is now one of the most important craftsmen in the restoration of monuments in the Kinmen area. In 2023, he was verified by the MOC as a preserver of important cultural heritage, also known as the “National Living Treasure.”


In 1991, Lee’s two sons returned to Kinmen successively after completing their studies and joined his team. For Lee, having his sons working together with him and continuing his legacy is the most delightful thing. 


Invited by the MOC and the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Kinmen County, Lee was appointed to teach at the China University of Technology (中國科技大學) and conduct seminars on the restoration techniques of traditional buildings in Kinmen. He also served as a monument examination committee member for the MOC and the Kinmen National Park, providing practical advice and guidance. He has taken on 12 students as apprentices, the only group of apprentices he has ever mentored, hoping that the techniques he possesses will be passed on to future generations. 


(Photo courtesy of Lee Ching-hai)