May 9, 2010

Miaoli Yuanli, hometown of Lin Cao (Lin Grass)

苗栗苑裡,是一個以藺草編織而聞名的純樸小鎮。在日治時期曾創造台灣帽席外銷的經濟奇蹟,渡過了一段相當燦爛輝煌的時代。但和大多數的傳統產業一樣,在社會形態改變及外來競爭等因素下,苑裡的藺草產業也曾面臨沒落、衰敗,有過極為慘淡的歲月。所幸,有苑裡山腳社區的努力推廣,逐漸式微的藺草傳藝文化才有了延續的可能。

Miaoli Yuanli is a small quiet town famous for its Lin Cao woven. The export of the hats and mats created an economic miracle for Taiwan during the Japanese Colonial Ear. It was quite an exciting era! However, similar to other traditional industries, because of society changes, foreign competition and other factors, Yuanli Lin Cao industry ran into a declining trend and downtime. Fortunately, with the effort of the community to promote Lin Cao, this culture was able to continue.

青翠細長的藺草,是一種多年生的草本植物,生長在河流出海口的沼澤及濕地等地區。人們原本把藺草視為不起眼的雜草,卻誰也沒想到,這雜草竟然可以養活全苑裡人,甚至還能創造台灣的經濟奇蹟。

註:仔細看,藺草的莖部是呈正三角形哦!。。

The slender Lin Cao is a perennial herb which grows in the wetland off the river mouth at the sea. Lin Cao was treated as weeds; however, these weeds not only became the livelihood of the whole village, but also created an economic miracle for Taiwan.

PS: If you look at it closely, the stem of the Lin Cao is in a triangle shape.

藺草的莖部柔軟強韌、不易斷裂,為編織的極佳材料,而其吸濕性強的特性,還具有除濕、除臭的功能,所編出來的草帽、蓆墊,細緻典雅、清涼舒適,而且還散發著一股淡淡的清香味。就是因為這些特點,讓藺草編織帽席成了日治時期炙手可熱的外銷品。

The soft stem of the Lin Cao is very tough, not easily breakable. It is an excellent material for weaving because of this special characteristic. It also has functions of dehumidification and deodorization. The hats and mats made from Lin Cao are very elegant, comfortable, and with a fresh fragrant smell. Because of all these characteristics, the Lin Cao products have become hot goods to export.

藺草編織品的製程相當的繁瑣耗時,從藺草的採收、曝曬、整理及篩選,再經過剝草褲、析草、槌草、揉草等前製工作後,才能開始進入編織的程序。目前,在苑裡山腳社區協會或藺草文化館裡,可以親眼見到苑裡媽媽們熟練的草編技術。

The weaving process is very complicated and takes time. After the pre-process of harvesting, drying, organizing, filtering, stripping, analysis, and pre-kneading, the weaving can then begin. Now we can watch housewives from Yuanli skillfully weaving in the Lin Cao Cultural Museum or in the Yuanli Community Association.

除了帽子、席墊外,還可以找到各式各樣用藺草編織的用品,諸如抱枕、拖鞋、手機袋、小皮包及提包等等。藺草編織的成品造型簡潔、質地細緻且優美典雅,像照片裡的這個提包,就讓我頗為驚豔,不過因全仰賴手工製作,價格並不便宜。

Beside the hats and mats, different styled daily goods, such as pillows, slippers, cell phone bags, small wallets, and handbag…etc can also be found. They all have very simple design, but with the soft quality and elegant look. I was so impressed with the handbag in the photo. The price is not cheap because it was all handmade.

如果不說,大概會以為這是雙嬰兒鞋吧! 其實,這是用來包覆電腦滑鼠的滑鼠套,不僅防滑還可以吸手汗呢!

I think you may think this is the shoe for an infant, right? Actually, this is a cover of the computer mouse. It does not slip and absorbs hand sweat!

想了解更多藺草文化,就一定要到「藺草文化館」走走。「藺草文化館」是利用舊穀倉重建的,二樓是餐廳,一樓除了展示有詳盡的苑里帽蓆文化外,還有藺草藝品展示、藺草體驗區及農村古文物展示區等。

If you would like to know more about Lin Cao culture, you would need to visit the “Lin Cao Culture Museum” The museum is a reconstruction of an old barn. The second floor is a restaurant. The first floor has the exhibitions of the hats and mats culture, Lin Cao products displays, Lin Cao experience area, and farm antique display.

在藺草產業的高峰期,苑裡的家家戶戶幾乎都在從事藺草編織業,而從事手工編織的婦女不僅收入遠高於男人,甚至還能養活一家數口,為家中主要經濟支柱。所以當時在苑裡,生女兒是可喜可賀的一大樂事,而相較當時台灣其他地方重男輕女的觀念,顯得相當特別。

註:從舊照片裡可以看出,當年女生從小就開始學習編織藺草的情況。

During the peak time of the Lin Cao industry, almost every resident in Yuanli made living from weaving. Women earned higher income than men due to their handmade products. Woman’s income became the main source of a household. At that time, every household would be glad when a baby girl was born. Compared to other areas of Taiwan with the patriarchal attitudes (preference for boys), it was very special.

PS: You can see from the old picture, the girls started to weave with Lin Cao in her young age.

我特別喜歡館內的展示還原實境的模型,透過這些模型可以清楚的看到當年的實際工作情形。

I especially like the model in this exhibit which gives the real scene of the past. From this model, I can see the working process at that time.

神桌、板凳及日曆等都相當擬真,舊時農村家裡的樣貌也十分傳神,這二個是我相當喜歡的模型。

The worship table, bench and calendar in the farm house look so real. I really like these two models.

除了實用品外,館內也可看到用藺草編織的工藝品。真不知這組茶具是如何編出來的,尤其是那個茶壺,真讓人佩服!

Beside the daily use products, you can also see the art and craft from Lin Cao weaving. I was amazed and still don’t know how this tea set was weaved, especially the tea pot!

文化館的後段展示不少農村古文物。小時候我外婆家的桌椅就差不多是這個樣子,而後方那櫥櫃(用來放碗盤的)更是早年家家戶戶廚房必有的。以前我家就有那麼一個,不過早就被扔掉了!

In the back of the museum, there are quite a few rural antiquities being displayed. I remember that my grandmother had a similar table and a bench when I was a kid. The cabinet in the back to store the dishes was a must- to- have item in the kitchen for every home in the past. We used to have one; however, it was tossed a long time ago.

藺草編織產品質樸淡雅,且有著淡淡的藺草香,讓人愛不釋手。雖然手工製作所費不貲,但只要保養得宜,藺草織品可以使用很長很久的!

The Lin Cao products have a simple and elegant look and also come with a Lin Cao fragrance! Although these handmade products are not cheap, with a good care, they will last very long! Read More

8 comments:

Zhu said...

You are getting really good at taking pictures! I truly enjoy the close-up, I feel like I'm sitting besides you :-)

Weaving is an art I really respect. From something so fragile, beautiful objects are made.

lechua said...

love the detail covered in ur posts especially on taiwan's cultural traits! and the shoes are adorable!

Rafael Lam said...

I really like those mouse covers, I thought they are baby shoes, so cute!
Very interesting handicrafts of Lin Cao culture!

kristen and micki said...

@Zhu- Thanks for your compliment! :) The weaving art is so beautiful, I like it a lot!

@Lechu- Ha, those are not the shoes, are the computer mouse cover~~

@Rafael-是呀,乍看真的會以為是嬰兒鞋。我想,應該沒有人猜得到那是滑鼠套吧!

fufu said...

wow... nice!!! how nice this weaving heritage still being protected by the authority :) nice products also :)

1ondoncalling said...

Lin Cao is so versatile. You can use it to make mats, baskets, shoes and even tea pots!

That's so cool that you even got a museum dedicated to Lon Cao.

In Malaysia, we use another type of plant called Mengkuang. I don't know its English name. But if you Google image "mengkuang", you can get see the plant.

shloke said...

Thank you for sharing another unique story from Taiwan. This article reminds me of Jacky Wu 吴宗宪 and his travel show (forgotten the name). I LOVE seeing that program on Sunday evening. He and a bunch of artists travel all over Taiwan to promote the wonderful places, local businesses and delicious food.

The triangle shaped Lin Cao looks like mini toblerone bar :) Weaved mouse casing??? Looks kinda cute. It must be difficult moving it on a surface.

Cheers!

kristen and micki said...

@fufu- The authority here I think has done a pretty good job in preserving and promoting the cultural heritage.

@Londoncaller- I like the weaving products from South Asia countries as well. Mengkuang products must have very nice fragrance!

@Mylo- Thanks! Sounds like you are enjoying Jacky Wu’s program. He is a character, isn’t he? :)

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