To honor six masters of traditional arts and crafts for their lifelong contributions to Taiwan's cultural heritage, Culture Minister Hung Meng-chi (洪孟啟) formally bestowed them with the title of "National Living Treasures” at a May 23 ceremony held at the Taichung Cultural & Creative Industries Park.
The laureates are Beiguan (北管) musician Chiu Huo-jung (邱火榮) and his wife Luantan (亂彈) opera actress Pan Yu-chiao (潘玉嬌); wood-frame structural carpentry (大木作) architects Hsu Han-jen (許漢珍) and Liao Chih-te (廖枝德); late paper-cutting artist Li Huan-chang (李煥章); and wood carver Ye Jing-yi (葉經義).
Hung expressed his respect for their lifelong commitment to excellence in traditional artistry, and praised their efforts in nurturing a new generation of artists to inherit their craft skills. He noted that preserving Taiwan's traditional culture is a race against time; it is these artisans who keep such traditional arts alive and vibrant.
Launched in 2009, the annual awards program has recognized more than 30 "National Living Treasures” to date. Recipients include 23 practitioners of significant traditional arts; five groups dedicated to the preservation of traditional arts; seven artisans with unique sets of traditional skills; and one group dedicated to the preservation of heritage crafts.
After the awards ceremony, the five remaining laureates will each start a four-year apprenticeship program to teach their skills and mentor a new generation of traditional performers and artisans.
The Bureau of Cultural Heritage will hold a concurrent exhibition at the Ya Tang Hall of the Taichung cultural park from May 22 through July 26. Titled "Unparalleled Finesse,” the event will showcase Li's intricate paper cuttings, Ye's complex and vivid wood carvings, Liao and Hsu's architect models and manuscripts, and a 3D animation explaining the details of traditional Chinese wood-frame carpentry.