In the year 1950, artisan Huei-Mei Chen was born in Luodong, Yilan. She originally worked in leather craftsmanship but later met her mentor, Grandma Chen Ai Yu Hsieh, from whom she learned the Minnan wrapped flower technique. Over the past twenty years, she has not only specialized in Hakka wrapped flowers, Jinmen “Ji-Hua,” and other regional techniques, but also re-interpreted them and blended them, forming a unique personal style of wrapped flowers that became her lifelong dedication.
Huei-Mei Chen has held numerous solo exhibitions and taught classes throughout Taiwan, actively participating in international cultural exchange activities. She has collaborated with fashion designers, propelling wrapped flower art onto the international stage. Committed to promoting the art of wrapped flowers, she has become a mentor for this craft in Taiwan. In 2020, she was recognized by the Ministry of Culture as an important preserver of the wrapped flower art.
Huei-Mei Chen combines techniques from both the southern and northern wrapped flowers, forming the “Four Elements”: materials, tools, techniques, and procedures. She has named various techniques and components, establishing the fundamental teaching and grading standards for wrapped flowers in Taiwan. Wrapped flower art is a traditional Taiwanese handicraft with regional variations. It is often used in auspicious occasions, particularly in traditional weddings, symbolizing good blessings and showcasing profound cultural heritage.
Her intricate skills are closely connected with social etiquette and daily life, presenting the aesthetic beauty of ordinary people’s lives. She harmoniously blends traditional techniques while showcasing Taiwanese cultural characteristics, injecting traditional craftsmanship with modern creativity. This makes her an exemplary representative of Minnan and Hakka cultural handcrafts.
- Preservation of important traditional crafts
- Wrapped flowers hold cultural ethics and values
- Canada’s diverse ethnic groups all have their own cultural crafts that convey blessings and joy
Chienhua (flower wrapping) is a traditional handicraft in Taiwan, which combines the techniques of paper-cutting, winding, and embroidery. Depending on the region, this art form is called “Chunzai Flower” in southern Fujian, “Tangled Flower” in Hakka, and “Jihua” in Kinmen. These varieties between regions show Taiwan’s diverse and rich cultural ethics.
Wrapped flowers are generally used on auspicious occasions, especially in traditional weddings. They are full of blessings and symbolize happiness. This kind of traditional handicraft not only shows people’s yearning for a better life, but also represents Taiwan’s distinctive folk crafts connected to a rich cultural heritage. In Canadian Indigenous culture, sweetgrass is braided, which also holds the meaning of blessing and spiritual healing.
Huei-Mei Chen integrates cultural ethics into her creations, giving this art a more profound meaning. Through the process of making flower wrappings, traditional etiquette, family affection, and festivities are presented in the meticulous work, which also promotes the generational knowledge and development of these values in the contemporary era.
The art of wrapped flowers represents Taiwanese folk art creation and aesthetics. It’s also a practical manifestation of cultural ethics. Taiwan’s cultural diversity and traditional values have been condensed, and it has become an important link connecting the past and the present and passing it on to future generations.