Coiled Dragon Candlesticks

Coiled Dragon Candlesticks

National Treasure

National Treasure Intro

These Coiled Dragon Candlesticks were made by Ye Wang, a famous Koji Pottery ware potter from Taiwan.

Ye Wang (1826-1887) was born in Chiayi, Taiwan, in the Qing dynasty during the reign of the Daoguang Emperor; because of this object’s vivid shape and magnificent glaze, during the Japanese colonial period, Japanese people were in awe when they saw it. They thought it belonged to the soft pottery “Glazed Koji Pottery” system in the region of southern China and Vietnam, therefore they gave this type of Taiwanese pottery the name of “Koji Pottery”, and praised Ye Wang as the only famous potter from Taiwan in the last three hundred years, transforming Koji Pottery into one of Taiwan’s representative arts. Ye Wang was the leading master of his generation.

Ye Wang’s works were mostly used in temples; unfortunately, due to frequent earthquakes and hurricanes in Taiwan, temple renovations have been frequent, so the examples of his work that survived are rare.

This pair of Coiled Dragon Candlesticks are particularly rare and precious because they were not attached to the architectural decoration of a temple, but were a practical pair of candlesticks with a three-dimensional shape and can be observed from 360 degrees. It is said that Ye Wang gave these candlesticks as a birthday present to his father-in-law, they were used in the desk in his hall, when lit the candle would burn for a long time as a sign of a long life, reflecting the timeless importance of aesthetics in daily life.This pair of candlesticks were subject to the limitations of the kiln size and temperature control at the time they were made. After the candlesticks were shaped, each candle was individually crafted into a dragon’s head, dragon’s claws, pedestal, and their other components; then they were fired in the kiln, assembled and fixed. This intricate process demonstrates the skill of the craftsman.

In 2016, the Ministry of Culture designated the pair as a national treasure. At present, the pair are in the collection of the National Center for Traditional Arts, they are one of its significant treasures. In addition to being displayed in a physical exhibition, there is also an online exhibition called,“The Dragon Coiled Candlesticks: A Multimedia Exhibition of a National Treasure”.

National Treasure Appreciation

Ye Wang subtly integrated the column-shaped candlestick with the coiled dragon wriggling upwards.

Regarding the arrangement of the glaze colors, the main colors are the yellow of the column’s body and the blue of the dragon. The blue dragon is highlighted by the contrast between the two colors, and the yellow column is embellished with blue-green cloud and tide patterns, which subtly reduces the conflicting contrast.

The dragon’s chest is protruding while its stomach is pulled in, its claws are strong and energetic, its scales have distinct sharp edges, making it appear very vigorous, reflecting how ordinary people imagined dragons to be comfortable both in the sky and the sea, and able to cause it to rain.
There are two coiled dragons on this pair of candlesticks, one with a closed mouth, one with an open mouth, subtly implying the harmonization of yin and yang.
The dragon’s white head matches its thick black eyes, it makes the dragon appear particularly spiritual. The dragon’s carmine forehead and ears are the parts people enjoy discussing the most, they jump out from the dragon’s jade-green glazed mouth and mane. On top of this, it makes the whole work appear magnificent and imbues it with a rhythmic charm of strength and weakness.
The tiny red pom-poms (calliandra haematocephala) on the dragon’s beard sways gently in the breeze, adding a sense of motion to the static candlestick.
When Ye Wang made this pair of Coiled Dragon Candlesticks, he decided not to reveal the whole dragon, but on the points where the dragon’s body folded, he decorated it with cloud patterns, creating a mysterious feeling of only seeing the dragon’s head but not its tail.
The yellow column of the candlestick, the flaming carmine pattern on its feet, the blue scales and tide pattern, and the green jade wave pattern make the candlestick more vivid. These glaze colors are still bright and timeless to this day.
The bases are decorated with the feet of lions, which function to suppress and ward-off evil.



The National Center for Traditional Arts (NCFTA) was established in 2002 to coordinate, plan, and promote the investigation, preservation, transmission, and promotion of Taiwan’s traditional arts. The NCFTA has four subordinate units: the GuoGuang Opera Company, the National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan, the Taiwan Bangzi Opera Company, and the Taiwan Music Institute.

The NCFTA’s collection mainly contains artifacts related to traditional crafts, traditional drama, traditional music, folk festivals, national music, and contemporary music. Also, there are handwritten music scores, scripts, posters, program books, performance photos, and audio-visual oral interviews. All these sources can be viewed on the“NCFTA website.”

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