Is that broken crockery on your pants or are you just happy to see me? Jiannian temple décor in Taiwan

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!



  1. Great photos. Could that splash of blue from the dragon’ mouth be water? Chinese dragons are water creatures, I understand.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, that makes a lot of sense, thanks!


  2. Fantastic photos and fantastic art. I love mosaics and ceramics. There is a beach near me where you can find shards of pottery from a Victorian kiln. I’ve used some to decorate a mirror, but my attempts are pretty ‘rustic’ compared to these. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rustic is the thing now isn’t it? They call it Shabby Chic. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh wow, they are amazing, yes I would love to see how the artists work 🙂 Love the first photo of the dragon 🙂


    1. I hope there’s a new generation of artisans in training. Wouldn’t it be terrible if an art form like this died out?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it would be awful, I hope they do train younger people.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This makes me want to go smash some dishes and make art. Incredible!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that sounds like a great theme for your next blog post!


  5. These are beautiful, so colourful and detailed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. We had such a hard time getting anywhere in Taiwan because I kept saying “Let me just go look at that temple for a minute” and of course an hour would go by and I’d still be gaping at it.


  6. The art of implanting ceramic parts…to withstand earthquake, typhoon???

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so crazy to think that this beautiful art withstands Taiwan’s ferocious typhoons, which we heard last for six days. When we went hiking there were a lot of trails closed because of some recent typhoon.


      1. That is amazing!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. The headline cracked me up – and eventually made me read a post that I otherwise surely would have passed on. Great read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks travelsidenotes: I think that’s what’s known as clickbait. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Katie Marie Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: