Taiwanese culture is characterized by a rich pedigree of traditional art and crafts that have been functional, decorative, and symbolic to the local people for centuries. Despite contemporary life with its hyper connectivity and global reach, traditional Taiwan arts and crafts are still practised and appreciated. Beautiful and unique handwoven items made from sustainable materials, such as the alpinia, bamboo, tree bark, and dried ginger stems, can be found off the beaten track if you do your research. Visit boutique craft studios such as PateRongan Art, located in Xinshe (about an hour from Hualien), or Alpinia , which is in Hualien city itself. At both these outlets you’ll unearth wonderful authentic examples of local traditional artwork lovingly brought to life by artists dedicated to keeping local culture front and center. In addition to these staples, there are also beautiful artworks to be found in the easily recognisable indigo-dyed materials, floral Hakka fabrics, Amis handwoven scarves, and indigenous cross stitch artworks. With these, and other unique pieces such as beaded handicrafts or the island’s well known wood or stone carvings, there is bound to be something that catches your eye and makes its way back home. Contemporary craftsmen continue these much loved expressions of artistic and cultural heritage, often melding the old and new in ways that have broadened the appeal of Taiwan’s traditional crafts. Local artists are supported by the government and communities, through regular festivals, and at local markets, so be sure to check with your guide on the ground to identify which of these align with your travel itinerary. You definitely don’t want to miss out on the vibrant creative scene during your travels in Taiwan.
Update: December 23, 2022