Jane Ingram Allen
Made In Taiwan
Jan. 26– Feb. 6, 2005
Organization: Liouguei Forest Research Center
Taiwan Forestry Research Institute
Liou-Kei, Kaohsiung County, Taiwan
We arrived at Liou Kei Forestry Research Institute late at night. We
are staying at the Shan-Ping Forest Ecological Garden which is a 30 minute
drive up a very winding road approximately 8 kilometers from the village
of Liou Kei. When we woke up we saw how beautiful the location is with
many flowers and trees.
The first thing we did after having breakfast was to set up the exhibition
of the "stie maps" from the Made in Taiwan project in the forest
research center's new interpretive center. In the afternoon we walked
a trail around the Shan-Ping Forest Ecological Garden to look for plants
that will make paper. Some of the plants/trees we selected are giant bamboo,
a nettle family plant, a Formosan ficus, and a quinine tree. As we walked
the trail, we were impressed with the beauty of the garden and the diversity
of the plants.
The second full day of being here was a busy one with setting up the
studio, attending the opening, Jane giving a lecture and doing the demonstration.
The workman who attended us on our walk went out with others to pick plants
and cut branches from the trees. The studio is very good and will work
well for the workshop and the demonstration. The opening was attended
by about 50 people and the Director Lin of the Forestry Institute welcomed
Jane to Shan-Ping. Many of the families attending the opening reception
and program came to the demonstration and learned how to make paper. They
did an excellent job and seemed to have a good time. The workmen brought
additional material that needed to have the bark removed. The kids got
into beating the sticks with a hammer and then peeling the bark off.
We had enough bark to begin cooking. Overall, it was an exciting and very
This is the first day of the workshop and it appeared that many people
enjoyed making paper. The workshop participants also helped with preparing
some of the plants for paper making. We now have two plants ready to make
paper with two more ready to be put into the blender. We began cooking
four more plants and still have the bamboo leaves to cook. We have nine
plants in all that will be tested for papermaking.
Tim goes down nightly to the office to hook into the Internet to correspond
with his students and to upload these web pages. He was able to visit
the Saturday market at Liouguei. It was filled with food and game booths.
This weekly market is one of the important entertainment activities for
the people in this area.
We woke up early and had breakfast. Tim took some photographs of our
cabin, the surrounding areas and the workshop area. Today is the last
day of the workshop. This morning Jane talked to them about various ways
to make paper, and then everyone tried some of these methods. After lunch
they worked on making art work from the paper they made. Jane also demonstrated
making a bird sculpture, and some of the students created their own. One
student made an owl. Jane then selected 5 pieces from this workshop
for the traveling exhibit.
The day after the workshop was spent making paper from the plants picked
around Shan-Ping. There are nine plants that Jane is using here, and all
have been cooked, cleaned, beaten, cut and put through the blender. We
had some excellent help from two volunteers. Most of the plants make good
to excellent paper. Unfortunately, the tree bark from the tree that makes
quinine did not make good paper as it did not have very long fibers. Nor
did the giant bamboo leaves. Jane made samples and sheets from all of
the plants. It is very damp here with us being in the clouds, and a soft
rain is falling today. This has made it difficult to dry the paper.
We had to hang everything indoors and turn on fans.
Today was focused on touring the area with particular emphasis on going
to Meuning, a nearby Hakka village where the traditional paper umbrellas
are made. Before we left, Jane removed the dried paper that she had made
yesterday. Some of the paper was very beautiful, and many might even make
paper for commercial use. The paper that came from the quinine tree, as
we suspected, would not hold together.
On the way to Meinung we stopped at a unique temple that celebrates the
pig as a god. As the story goes, a woman in her dreams was told by her
pig to worship him and to take his bones and preserve them. The pig god
temple has many pigs sculptures including the two very pink ones at the
entrance of the temple. We were told we would have good luck if we touched
the preserved pig's skull, and we all did this.
Meuning is about an hour's drive from Shan-Ping. It is a traditional
Hakka villiage with interesting food, architecture and customs. The Hakka
people came to Taiwan over 300 years ago from China. They have retained
their language and customs. We ate traditional food at a restaurant owned
by a woman who used to have her own restaurant in Las Vegas. The food
was delicious, but we refrained from eating the dishes with meat.
From the restaurant we went to the umbrella store and were shown how
they treat the paper to protect it from moisture. We purchased one of
the umbrellas that had 100 children painted on it. In China it is good
luck to have many children. You would expect them to take care of you
when you got old and after you had died pray for your spirit to pass through
the many levels of heaven.
From the umbrella place we went to a more commercial/tourist center that
sold "traditional" Chinese products. It reminded us of "Cost
Plus". We did find a traditional hat made of palm leaves. It is worn
as a rain hat. They also had some of the largest gold fish that I have
seen. We stopped and fed them.
Wayne Lin our host took us to "old street" in Meinung. He introduced
us to a Hakka tailor who was 95 years old. Both Jane and I ordered traditional
shirts made by him. He will send them to us when he is finished. Wayne
also decided to have a shirt made as well. We then visited a paper sculpture
business that was down the street. This business makes replicas of a deceased
person's home and personal objects. These are present at the funeral and
then burned. It is believed that this will make it possible for the deceased
to carry with them the objects that they most enjoyed and valued in life.
The shop had two paper flamingos and we were told that this bird was to
carry a man from a the place of death to paradise. A female dragon would
be made of paper and would be used to bear a deceased woman's spirit to
heaven.. On this old street we also found a traditional Hakka house with
salted pork hanging from racks outside on the street to dry and peanuts
drying on the street.
It was a very interesting day and one that we will fondly remember for
a long time.
Following our day off touring some of the sites in Kaoshuing County,
it was back to work. Since this is a forestry research center, Jane decided
to do some handmade paper with impressions of the bark from different
trees. She made a large stack of paper and then put them on the trees
around her studio to dry. There were many to choose from so it was not
difficult to get many good samples. It was a cloudy and cool day so it
took the entire day to dry and even then some were still wet. After lunch
there was a group that visited her studio. They watched as she worked
on laying out her site map and then began to place leaves and other objects
found from the area. By the end of the day Jane had put the acrylic
mat gel onto the surface of her site map and put the fan on it to dry.
Jane has finished one side of each of the two site maps she is doing
here. The second site map uses paper from the tree castings. We noticed
a hugh beehive near the entrance of the exhibit hall. Fortunately it is
no longer occupied by bees. We were told that the type of bee that builds
such a large paper nest is very deadly if it bites you. We also
had a treat for dinner, seafood pizza. Although it was good, Tim is still
not used to the corn and peas that are a regular topping on pizzas in
Taiwan. This pizza also had carrots.
Our last two days in Shan-ping has been very enjoyable and the weather
has turned warm and sunny. Jane has completed two site maps for Liouguei
and we installed the final exhibit. During the exhibit opening Jane made
friends with eight year old Grace. She is the daughter of a Shan-ping
employee. Jane helped here with learning English by writing the English
words as she said them in English. Grace later asked about each word and
wrote them in Chinese characters. Grace is in many pictures and gently
took Jane's hand as they walked around the exhibit area.
Last night we had dinner at a restaurant that specializes in seafood.
It is the third time we have been there, and we have gotten to know the
owners. It was also the Saturday night market in Liouguei village. We
will miss Liouguei and all the staff and volunteers. Wayne Lin, our host
contact, has been very helpful. He transported us up and down the mountain
each day and made sure our stay was productive and enjoyable.
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February 5, 2005
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