The next time you’re in Taiwan find a temple and look at the roofline: dragons!
There are always dragons on the Taiwan’s temple rooflines and they are fantastic. Go ahead and click on this beauty (I put a high res shot in just so you can appreciate the detail.) Notice the dragon’s dynamically twisting form, his dinosaur feet and the theatrical plume of spurting (blue!) fire flowing from his mouth. Don’t neglect the scratching chickens and the delicate flowers under his feet either.
All of this luscious detail is created through a multi-dimensional form of mosaic art called jiannian.
Sometimes the jiannian is more subtle, like in this temple featuring two dragons fighting over a flaming pearl.
This jiannian fish protects the temple from fire.
I adore the more textured form of jiannian. Here the artist is not hiding the bottom of the yellow bowl which was smashed to create the fishes’ tail and fins.
You guys: crockery cranes! And a little red jiannian flying bird!! AND A LILY PAD!!!! (Seriously, this art form is quite overwhelming. How did I get to be a middle aged lady without knowing about it?)
I wish I had a chance to see the artists at work. I’m so curious about how they mold the crockery bits over the ceramic doll forms. Did you notice the five orange bowl bottoms that make up the folded sleeve of the figure on the right? Well done you!
What could be more enchanting than this jiannian-rendered polo scene?
This is why I keep traveling for art; the surprise and how it makes me look at the surrounding environment differently. After days filled with admiring jiannian decorated temple roofs, Taiwan’s signs and advertisements started feeling like close relations to it’s temples.
One final tip: go inside the temple and climb the stairs to the top floor and peak out. You might be rewarded with a jiannian close-up, like this handsome fellow with his flamboyant blue shard sash…..ahhh!