Master puppet carver Hsu Bing-yuan (徐柄垣), who was named the preserver of the traditional craft of carving puppets' heads by the Changhua County Government, passed away on June 20 at the age of 88. Minister of Culture Lee Yung-te expressed his condolences and stated that MOC will present an award to Hsu in recognition of his delicate craftsmanship and artistic achievements which opened up new horizons for Taiwanese puppetry.
Hsu developed his carving style throughout his long career during the evolution of puppetry, from traditional puppet shows to golden light puppetry as well as puppetry in television and films, turning Hsu into one of the most representative puppet makers in Taiwan. Born in 1935, Hsu started learning carving techniques from his father Hsu Hsi-sheng (徐析森) and brothers since 1952, and he was deeply influenced by his father. Hsu assisted his father in the crafting of puppets for the puppet movie "The Journey to the West (西遊記)," and also made a large-size puppet which is three feet three inches long for Toshio Huang (黃俊雄). In 1966, Hsu helped his father design a new puppet with movable eyes and mouth, which laid the groundwork for designing the puppets in the film series "Scholar Swordsman (雲州大儒俠史艷文)" later in his career.
Many renowned puppeteers such as Chung Jen-pi (鍾任壁), Huang Chiu-teng (黃秋藤), Huang Shun-Jen (黃順仁), Xu Wang (許王) have placed orders with Hsu, in pursuit of higher quality puppets. Hsu founded his own puppet studio in the 1970s, and the main characters in Pili's productions were mostly created by him.
Minister Lee stated that Hsu has devoted his life to honing his skills and has been a witness to the development of Taiwanese puppetry. Hsu laid the groundwork for Taiwan's traditional crafts and his passing leaves a legacy that will be cherished forever by future generations.
(Photo Credit: ChangHua County Cultural Affairs Bureau)