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Appreciate the essence of traditional art done by the masters

By Eva Tang

A hallway in the display area shows portraits of the masters.Bo Pi Liao Street in Taipei’s Manga District is fully geared up for the coming Chinese New Year with a collection of gems from seven masters of various traditional art forms from puppetry and lion dance to Taiwanese Opera and Xiangsheng, or Chinese comedic crosstalk.

The seven masters are Xiansheng master Wu Zhao-nan; Hung Lai-wang, who sculpts lions’ heads for lion dancing; Taiwanese Opera master Chen Sheng; Buddha statue sculptor Liao De-liang; and three puppetry masters: Chen Hsi-huang, Hsu Wang, and Chung Jen-pi. These masters, who average 80 years old, have been invited by the Department of Cultural Affairs of Taipei City to showcase some of their most precious artifacts from what they have spent most of their lives doing.

Taiwanese opera costumes.Included in the display are a full set of properties for a lion dance team; hand-sewed puppetry outfits; Taiwanese Opera costumes; and five necessary presents from the Xiansheng master when he decides to take in an apprentice. A section next to the display area shows videos of classic performances from the masters and the troupes in the past.

Puppets wearing matching outfits are displayed in the window.In addition, three live performances are scheduled for February 5-7 at Bo Pi Liao at two o’clock in the afternoon. The debut show February 5 is a lion dance, and on February 6 viewers will be treated to a puppet show on an episode from the Chinese fable “Journey to the West” by the Hsin Hsing Ku Puppet Show Troupe. On February 7 there will be a different style puppet show based on a Chinese folk tale, by the Hsiao Hsi Yuan Puppet Theater.

Workshops on singing Taiwanese opera, how to make puppet outfits and demonstrations of how to manipulate them will be held Saturdays at 14:00 on February 12 and 26, March 26, and April 9. The exhibition runs through April 17.