Brothers Chan Kuo-hsiang and Weng Kuo-hua, both Yingge potters, talk about the craft of imitation pottery and how their lives are intimately tied up with the fortunes of the old pottery town in New Taipei City
Date: May 01, 2016
By: Paul Cooper / Staff reporter
Kick-wheel potter Chan Kuo-hsiang (詹國祥) tells a story of how late president Chiang Ching-
kuo (蔣經國) was puzzled during a visit to the old pottery town of Yingge (鶯歌鎮). BMWs and Mercedes were parked along streets lined with dilapidated buildings — conspicuous wealth amid ramshackle abodes.
Before China opened up its market, Yingge potters producing imitation Chinese ceramics were raking it in.
“The heyday was probably 1980 to 1990,” says Cheng Wen-hung (程文宏), head of the Educational Promotion Department of the New Taipei City Yingge Ceramics Museum. “After that… most of the big factories moved to China.”
Chan and his brother, Weng Kuo-hua (翁國華), specialize in throwing huge pots. They have seen good times and bad. In many ways, their fortunes have been tied to those of Yingge itself.
Yingge has been a pottery town since 1804. It flourished because of local coal and clay deposits, and, later, because the arrival in Taiwan of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in 1949 put a temporary stop to pottery imports from Japan and China. This gave Yingge potters the chance to start producing functional wares for the domestic market. [FULL STORY]