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A Wonderful Encounter between Russian Woodcraft Artist and Tainan’s Traditional Master Craftsmen
Russian woodcraft artist Aleksey Knyazev visited Taiwan as a guest of 2019 International Conference and Exhibition on Art and Design. In order to give him a deeper understanding of Taiwan’s traditional woodcarving, Tainan Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage made a special arrangement for Knyazev to meet some local master craftsmen. On the 7th of this month, all these great artists had a wonderful meeting at Da Xin Art Museum on Si Men Road to exchange their creative experiences.

Knyazev is not only a member of the Russian Folk Art Association, but also an honorary academician of the Russian Academy of Arts. Initially, he was so fascinated with the warmth and solidity of wood that he decided to devoted his life to woodcarving, especially high relief carving characterized by complex and sophisticated layering. Knyazev’s works include articles for daily use, as well as statues of Orthodox Church icons. Hoping to create a greater connection between the Eastern World and the Western World through woodcarving, the Tainan Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage made a special arrangement for Knyazev to meet some local traditional craft preservationists, such as Chen Qi-cun (woodcarving), Chen San-huo (temple ornament cutting and decoration), Tsai Te-tai (decorative carving in temples), and Huang De-sheng (clay/wooden god statue decoration). Tainan Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage said that Knyazev and these masters share one thing in common: making something classical and adding modern elements into their creations.

Knyazev also visited these masters’ studios, and appreciated having opportunities to learn more about their skills. Additionally, Knyazev’s trip to Fu An Temple, in Jhengzihlaio, Tainan, gave him a great chance to have a close look at the masterpieces of local craftsmen.

Knyazev shared his observations on the differences he had noticed. For example, in Russia the wood texture is hard, while Taiwan cypress is much easier to carve. Chisels in Russia typically have a handle, while in Taiwan they don’t, as local craftsmen use them with mallets. Knyazev was extremely pleased to have the opportunity of meeting Tainan’s precious masters and witnessing their amazing skills, which have inspired him in his future creation.