In this Miaoli County woodcarving mecca, there’s a consistent demand for sculptures made from the wood of endangered trees. Government crackdowns on poachers have only fueled the market.
The News Lens
By: Nick Aspinwall
Willy Lee (李柏葳), like most residents of Miaoli County’s Sanyi (三義) township in
northwest Taiwan, has been involved in the woodcarving industry for much of his life. Known throughout Taiwan as the “Kingdom of Woodcarving,” Sanyi is home to around 300 wood art shops which line the tourist-friendly Guangsheng Old Street and Shuimei Street, and feed a hungry market for domestically produced wood art.
Lee’s father, a Sanyi native and skilled artisan, responded to the heightened demand and opened a shop in 1996. However, he refused to sell sculptures, furniture, and art made from Taiwanese wood – highly coveted by buyers, but obtained via the illegal logging of endangered trees in old growth forests like the Taiwan yellow cypress (黃檜) and incense cedar (肖楠). [FULL STORY]