Veteran artisan Shih Chih-hui, the recipient of the 2014 National Crafts Achievement Award, has been devoted to the trade of wooden Buddha sculptures since the age of 16.
Born in Changhua's Lukang Township, Shih began his apprenticeship in 1950 under his father, who was an established and revered craftsman skilled in the Quangzhou-style of decorated Buddha statues.
Under the patriarchal mentorship, Shih mastered the intricate craft encompassing wood sculpturing, clay molding, gold inlaying, resin weaving, and painting. Shih became known for his attention to detail — such as realistic proportions, regal posture, and facial expression — and decoration style that incorporate Taiwanese elements.
Moreover, in adherence to the strict traditions governing the creation of religious objects, Shih also practices worshipping the block of wood before it is touched by a sculpturing knife (開斧), in which the deity is asked to grant consent to the making of a statue in its image.
He then holds a statue possession ceremony (入神) in which auspicious items such as hornets and cereal grains are used to imbue the deity's consciousness into the sculpture. The final act of the ceremony is completed by dotting the eyes (開光點眼) to awaken the statue.