National Treasure Intro
Ye Wang’s He-jing, Ping-an is part of a set of auspicious Koji pottery figures.
In 1860, during the renovation of the Tzu-chi Temple, Xuejia, Tainan, Ye Wang was hired to make more than 200 pieces of Koji pottery to decorate the roofs and exterior walls of the temple.
The He-jing figure from this set was originally located on the left side of the roof of the Sanchuan Hall. The Ping-an figure was originally located on the right side of the roof of the Sanchuan Hall. However, it was stolen in 1980, More than twenty years later, to prevent further theft, the Aurora Group raised the funding to build the Ye Wang Koji Pottery Exhibition Room, where most of Ye Wang's works are displayed.
Ye Wang (1826-1887) was born in Chiayi, Taiwan during the Daoguang period of the Qing dynasty. The most unique feature of Ye Wang’s figures is their individuality, they have a rich variety of expressions, and their expressions are all different. The main characters are all sculpted with dignified and organized expressions, the supporting characters are mostly given arbitrary expressions, which shows Ye Wang’s unlimited room for creativity. In terms of technique, Ye Wang made the figures small, thin, and light in weight, and glazed them using carmine, which makes them incredibly bright and pretty. it also contrasts sharply with the jade green and brown that are also used. With these techniques, Ye Wang also established the basic shape and characteristics of Koji pottery figures in Taiwan.
He was once hailed by Ozaki Hozuma , a compiler of Taiwanese history at the time, as the only famous potter in Taiwan in the past 300 years. This set of works is a representative example of Ye Wang’s unique artistic style and exquisite craftsmanship, and was therefore designated as a national treasure in 2015.
National Treasure Appreciation
This pair of Koji pottery figures was originally placed on the back of the roof of the Sanchuan Hall, facing Baosheng Dadi; one short and fat, one tall and thin.They are dressed in the official robe worn by ministers in the Qing dynasty, they are also wearing a belt around their waist and an ornate official’s hat.
He-jing is holding a “standing mirror,” while Ping-an is holding a “vase” and a “saddle.” Their name, He-jing, Ping-an, is a homophone taken from the Chinese pronunciation of the items they’re holding.
He-jing, Ping-an is intended to convey to the gods the true nature of all human beings in all forms, asking the gods for blessings so that “peace may spread throughout all realms to everyone.”
- Ozaki Hotsuma, “Taiwan Culture during the Qing Dynasty,” in Syunichi Kuriyama, Continuing the Story about Taiwan Culture. Unknown: Tricentennial Festival of Taiwan Culture, Unknown: Tricentennial Festival of Taiwan Culture, 1931, pp.93-114.
- Chien Jung-ts’ung and Cheng Chao-i, Colorful Sculptures: A Collection of Taiwan’s Koji Pottery. Nantou City: Taiwan Historica Society, 2001.
- Cheng Wen-hsien, Ye Wang’s ‘The Eight Immortals Cross the Sea’. Tainan: Tainan Municipal Government, 2014.
The Tzu-chi Temple, Xuejia, in Tainan enshrines Baosheng Dadi. At the end of the Ming dynasty, Chen Yigui, a grain transport officer in Koxinga’s army, crossed the sea and came to Taiwan, and with him he brought the Baosheng Erdi statue from the Baijiao Ciji Temple in Fujian to worship. He settled in Tainan and built a small hut as a temple to worship Baosheng Erdi next to the Jiangjun River, where there were also many immigrants living. The Tzu-chi Temple was built in 1701. Later, when it was renovated in 1860, the temple hired Ye Wang to decorate the walls, exterior walls, and roof of the temple with Koji pottery; Ye Wang crafted more than 200 pieces of pottery. However, between 1980 and 2003, 56 pieces of Koji pottery were stolen from the temple. In 2003, after buying some of the stolen pieces at auction, the Aurora Group was able to return 36 of the stolen pieces.
To prevent further theft, the Tzu-chi Temple set up the Ye Wang Koji Pottery Exhibition Room to preserve and display Ye Wang’s works, and asked Lin Kuang-I, a Koji pottery artisan, to recreate them and place them in the same place as the original Ye Wang Koji pottery.