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Stolen treasures returned to Jiyaxuan opera hall

Stolen treasures returned to Jiyaxuan opera hall

2023-11-20

A stash of stolen treasures has been voluntarily returned to a historic opera hall. Jiyaxuan in Yunlin is perhaps the most important historic opera hall in Taiwan. it was built in the 1850s, in Township, which was a major cultural center at the time. In the 20th century, Jiyaxuan fell into disrepair. Twenty-five years ago, many of its cultural artifacts were stolen. But now, they have been given back. Meanwhile, the custodians of the hall have won government funding for a major renovation project. The dilapidated buildings of the hall have been restored to their former glory. And Jiyaxuan is leading a renaissance in traditional arts, enabling new students to learn skills that have become vanishingly rare. FTV met Wu Teng-hsing, who’s in charge of the hall today, to find out about its comeback.

This is Jiyaxuan. It’s been an artistic center in Yunlin’s Beigang Township for more than a century. Many precious historical objects are kept here, but 25 years ago, a huge stash of items was taken in a robbery, leaving the hall’s custodians devastated. But recently, a member of the public contacted the museum and offered to return the stolen items.

Wu Teng-hsing
Jiyaxuan Association secretary-general
The objects were in Chiayi City, Yilan and Tainan. I never thought they’d come back. A collector contacted me. At first I thought it was some kind of scam. I wasn’t sure. So I asked them to send me photos, and they sent them, and I said, “Yeah, that’s our stuff!”

One of the items that’s been returned is a wooden drum stand, carved by the late sculptor and living national treasure, Chen Ying-pin. This whole set of carvings was stolen. The hall’s guardians are grateful that the set was protected, perhaps by spiritual forces, and that the carvings could find their way home. They’re also delighted to see the intricate work of these historical objects up close.

Wu Teng-hsing
Jiyaxuan Association secretary-general
They’ve come back but they’re seriously damaged. So we’re going to ask for help, and see if companies are willing to support us. When we restore historical objects, it’s not just repairing the object, it’s repairing our hearts and our souls.

Jiyaxuan was founded in the 1850s, in the Xianfeng reign of the Qing dynasty. It was the first storied opera hall in the local region. But later it fell into disrepair. Three years ago, its association received a Ministry of Culture subsidy to reconstruct the buildings and bring history back to life.

Wu Teng-hsing
Jiyaxuan Association secretary-general
These two pillars are 110 years old. So I told the repairmen, “Please keep as much of the existing material as you can.” So while they were repairing them, I was always watching and overseeing how they did it.

After the renovation, Jiyaxuan held a grand opening, and students were immediately lining up to learn traditional arts from the masters. The hall hopes these traditional arts will continue to flourish for many more centuries to come.

Wu Teng-hsing
Jiyaxuan Association secretary-general
The existence of this hall is very important for Beigang, and even for the whole of Yunlin County, and for Taiwan. Because Jiyaxuan was a first for Taiwan in many respects. Last year we even staged a performance at the National Center for Traditional Arts. So we need the younger generations to take up the baton and work hard to continue the traditions of Jiyaxuan.

Jiyaxuan is the first opera hall in Taiwan to become a nationally designated historic site. It bears testament to the cultural magnificence of Beigang at its height, and its reconstructed buildings are a marvel. The project is bringing back to life music that has been quiet for over 100 years.

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集雅軒古文物失竊25年後 奇蹟尋回

2023-11-20

雲林北港百年藝陣集雅軒,收藏了不少珍貴古文物,但在25年前曾遭過小偷光顧,但館方痛心疾首。但最近有民眾通知館方,要讓這些流落他鄉的文物,物歸原主。像是,由已故國寶木匠大師陳應彬打造的木雕鼓架,竟然能夠整組找回來,也讓館方相當感動。

雲林縣北港鎮百年藝陣集雅軒,館內藏有不少珍稀古物,但25年前失竊,館方除了痛心也留下遺憾,不過最近有民眾主動聯繫館方,讓這些流落他鄉的失物回歸原主。

[[集雅軒協會總幹事 吳登興]]
“東西在嘉義市,在宜蘭,在台南,我從來沒想過可以回來,藏家是自己聯絡我,一開始我也怕是詐騙集團,所以我也不確定,我就說可以傳個照片嗎,他(藏家)就傳照片,我就說對,這是我們的”

其中一座由已故國寶大師陳應彬打造的木雕鼓架,整組全部遺失,能夠找回來,館方除了感謝神明保佑,也讚嘆早期細緻的工藝。

[[集雅軒協會總幹事 吳登興]]
“找回來也是受損嚴重,所以之後也會拜託有沒有企業願意(協助),修復歷史,修的不只是文物而已,修的是我們的感情,修的是我們的魂魄”

北港集雅軒創立於清朝咸豐年間,是當地最早的閣樓樂館,不過因年久失修,建築多處損壞,在三年前爭取文化部補助,透過館舍整建重現歷史。

[[集雅軒協會總幹事 吳登興]]
“這兩根柱子有110年了,所以我也跟他們(維修人員)說,盡量能夠留的大部分都留,所以當時在修的過程,我們都要全程監造,全程看他們怎麼修”

集雅軒重新開張後,馬上就有學徒前來入館拜師,館方也期許這百年藝陣能源遠流長。

[[集雅軒協會總幹事 吳登興]]
“這個館的存在,對北港來說非常重要,甚至對雲林縣來說都非常重要,對台灣都非常重要,因為集雅軒創了很多台灣的第一,去年還到傳藝中心演出,所以集雅軒就是後輩還是一棒接一棒繼續努力”

集雅軒成為台灣第一間指定古蹟曲館,見證了北港曾經的風華歲月,舊建築整修後風雅未減,更讓消失百年之久的古樂藝術再次響起。

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