Sanyi Wood Sculpture Museum, Sanyi Township, Miaoli County, Taiwán 

The Taiwanese history of wood carving began during the Ming and Qing dynasties. As Tainan, Lukang and Daxi are home to a wealth of traditional temples, the wood carving industry was once very prosperous in these towns and cities. While the Sanyi Township of Miaoli is located in the mountainous area, the clay soil is ideal for growing camphor trees and tea trees. Thus, Sanyi became famed for an abundance of aromatic camphor wood. During the Japanese Colonial Era, the government cut off a significant number of camphor trees for medical and industrial purposes. Some workers found out that the roots of these trees loaded with profound aesthetic values, and professional wood craftsmen could turn these rotted roots into artistic objects. In the 1960s, the wood carving industry started to boom in Sanyi, attracting many wood craftsmen to settle here, and Sanyi soon became the well-known wood-carving town.

Open to the public in 1995, Sanyi Wood Sculpture Museum is the first national museum in Taiwan solely dedicated to wood carving. Featuring nine different exhibitions from the origin to the modern world, the museum embodies an inseparable link between tradition and innovation. If you are visiting Miaoli and looking for some local experiences, Sanyi Wood Sculpture Museum is worth every second.

When the wood carving industry was in its heyday, there were more than 200 studios surrounding the museum, making it a real “wood carving street.” However, labor costs started to soar and the cheap materials from China further weakened the Taiwanese wood carving industry. The town might not be as prosperous as before, but many furniture retailers still travel all the way to Sanyi to look for the best wood-carved works.

Epic Taiwan Culture & Adventure Route © Monika Newbound

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