From our archives, Compass Magazine, Jun. 2001
In 1927, master potter Lin Chiang-sung arrived in the small town of Shui-li in Nantou. He found this area to be a good place to practice his art, as there was plenty of quality clay and timber for heating the kilns. He built a workshop and named it ‘Snake Kiln’ for the meandering hillsides that lay all around.
Today, Snake Kiln is run by third-generation artisan Lin Kuo-jung, who hopes that ceramic items are not just thought of as ordinary, everyday objects (bowls and plates, for example). He has also changed the image of Snake Kiln from a ceramics workshop to a cultural park. The park includes pottery classrooms, a gallery, museum and 9-21 earthquake memorial. In addition to learning about the history of ceramics and appreciating the ceramic objects, visitors can work with pottery clay to make their own artistic creations.
Until the end of June, Snake Kiln is holding a special wood-burning kiln exhibition. Wood-burning kilns are one type of traditional kiln that use no glaze. Instead, ashes from the burning wood are allowed to settle on the ceramic objects to create a finish that is naturally and uniquely beautiful.
However, producing such objects is no mean feat. They must be fired in the kiln for three days and nights. The fire must be maintained without interruption while the heat is alternated between low, medium and high. Finally, an experienced potter, using only sight, judges whether the firing is finished. All of the items in the special exhibit were produced by the park’s artisans.
Inside the gallery are works from various artisans and collectors, allowing visitors to experience a number of artistic styles. In the museum are displays from the two world wars, items used by the Japanese military and ceramic objects from Taiwan dating back to the ’50s and beyond.
Snake Kiln is located in the heart of scenic Nantou county, about a 90-minute drive from Taichung City. As a backdrop to all of the beautifully crafted ceramics, the area is surrounded by green hills, making a visit to Snake Kiln a truly great escape.
Shui-li Snake Kiln Ceramics Cultural Park is located at
41, Ting Kan Lane, Ting Kan Tsun (village), Shuili Hsiang (Township), Nantou County.
(Now: No. 16, Huiyao Rd, Shuili Township, Nantou County, 553)