2022 TAIWANfest Toronto Lee Lung banner_
2022 TAIWANfest Toronto Lee Lung banner_

Weaving The Straw of Fortune

12:00 – 7:00 pm | Aug 27th | Food Lab
12:00 – 6:00 pm | Aug 28th | Food Lab

How can straw from the rice paddies become artwork that every household in Japan hangs in their houses? In Japan’s Shinto religion, shimenawa is a form of artwork that every household must hang up during the New Year. In each shrine, festival, and New Year celebration, you can see shimenawa woven straw art everywhere. Shimenawa bridges people and the deities to pass on peace and blessings, and it also marks the division between the heavens and the Earth. Many of these traditional items of worship that people in the Shinto religion use were made by a Taiwanese straw weaving artist: Lung Lee.

Lung Lee has been learning how to weave straw since childhood. He started learning the traditional Japanese custom and skill of shimenawa weaving in 2010. Since then, he has been exporting 30 to 40 cargo containers of his products to Japan each year. He has made a miracle of agricultural art creation and cultural exchanges. As a result, he has been awarded the label of “The Soul of Craftsmanship” by Taiwan’s General Association of Chinese Culture, which was presented in-person by Taiwan’s Vice President William Lai and Pingtung County Magistrate Pan Men-an. This exhibition will display Lung Lee’s special shimenawa artwork, telling the stories of this agricultural craftsman from Taiwan. These straw artworks simultaneously bring good fortune to Japan, connect Taiwanese crafts with Japanese religion, as well as reflect on how these two countries derive culture from their common abundance of rice. 

About the Artist

2022 TAIWANfest Toronto Lee Lung

Lung Lee

Straw Weaving Artist

Lung Lee, a straw artist in his 70s, has a pair of skillful hands and an endless imagination. Whether it is something flying in the sky or crawling on the ground—whatever you can think of—he can recreate it easily with his hands using straw (rice stalks). Lung grew up on a farm in Pingtung. Every time after the rice paddies were harvested, the elders would teach the kids how to weave swords and knives using straw and then fight with the straw weapons while riding on each other’s backs. Since then, Lung has been creating with straw for a long time, and that serves as the foundation of his career as a straw weaving artist. 

As the eldest son, Lung has had various jobs to support his family. Since 1997, he has devoted himself to straw weaving art. Lung does not need to draft his designs beforehand because of his abundant imagination and ideas. All he needs is to conceive of an idea in his head and then he can make use of the flexibility of straw in the fullest. As Lung says, “Life has always been about change—that is how you can have a lot of colours.”

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