A public art installation unveiled in Caotun Township, Nantou County on Dec. 31 will bring visitors back to the days when traditional cattle markets once dotted the pristine landscape of Taiwan.
Caotun Township, a key traffic hub between the plains and mountains because of its geographical advantages, once enjoyed a bustling trade in cattle and livestock. Farmers and brokers would gather to trade in oxen, man's trusted companion on the road and in the fields, while street vendors would peddle their wares to onlookers.
Altogether, such cattle fairs served as monumental social events that provided a chance for people to congregate and exchange items, services, news, and ideas. The gregarious noises and heavy scent of dung, snake oil medicine, and traditional treats are forever sealed in the memories of those who grew up in that era.
The reappearance of the cattle market culture in Caotun was spearheaded by the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute, and veteran artist Chen Pei-tse (陳培澤) was invited to help combine local culture with contemporary aesthetics to brighten up the newly opened Caotun Active Aging Craft Service Hall (工藝樂齡會館), whose site served as the main cattle-trading venue of the past.
Noting that cattle markets were just as lively as festivals, Chen the artist used the phrase "packed with people and cattle” to describe the excited and emotional atmosphere of the marketplace. Thus, he used steel plates to create silhouettes of cattle and people, re-producinga visual image of the cattle market to help the next generation remember the stories and old customs of Caotun.
"Imprints of the Cattle Trade” stands at 478cm in height, and is affixed to a 400cm circular base next to Caotun's historic big camphor tree on the intersection of Dacheng Street and Yufeng Street.
‘Imprints of the Cattle Trade'
Artist Chen Pei-tse (far left), Caotun Mayor Hung Kuo-hao (third left), and NTCRI Director Hsu Keng-hsiu (fourth left) celebrate the completion of a public art installation in Caotun Township, Nantou County on Dec. 31, 2015.