刨出蔡英文御用總統桌 一把鉋刀教台灣的事 | Carving the Presidential desk for Tsai Ing-wen

TAIPEI (The China Post) – Taiwan has 268 high mountains exceeding 3,000 meters in height with nine different types of forests, and it is in these mountain forests, starting at 2,000 meters above sea level, where the Taiwan Cypress grows. There is a saying that goes “you rely on the mountain by eating it,” and Taiwan’s natural high mountain resources have also deeply attracted the Japanese.

台灣超過三千公尺的高山高達268座、擁有九種不同林相,海拔兩千公尺以上更為天然資源檜木群生長地,俗話說靠山吃山,台灣的天然高山資源讓日本人也為之著迷,中華產業創新競爭力協會理事長王永寧表示,與其說台灣是海洋國度,不如說台灣也是群山的國度。

China Industrial Innovation Competitiveness Association Chairman, Wang Yongning says that, rather than just an island nation, it would be correct to say that Taiwan is also a nation of mountains. Although Taiwan is known as an island nation, it would not be incorrect to say it is also a mountain nation.

台灣超過三千公尺的高山高達268座、擁有九種不同林相,海拔兩千公尺以上更為天然資源檜木群生長地,俗話說靠山吃山,台灣的天然高山資源讓日本人也為之著迷,中華產業創新競爭力協會理事長王永寧表示,與其說台灣是海洋國度,不如說台灣也是群山的國度。

In 2016, National Taipei University of Technology Professor Chen Tien-li worked with Zhan Yi-nong, a national treasure-level master craftsman, to combine sculpting, Chinese painting and woodworking in the creation of a tailor-made “Desk of Roots” for President Tsai Ying-wen, produced from Taiwan Zelkova and Taiwan Cypress trees. For this project, Zhan crafted a special set of woodworking planes, with improved practical functions as a symbolic gesture.

2016年,國立臺北科技大學教授陳殿禮攜手國寶級製鉋匠師詹益農,結合雕刻、國畫、木作,以台灣櫸木、檜木為素材,為總統蔡英文打造一張御用「生根桌」。詹益農為此特別打造一組總統桌專用鉋刀,將鉋刀從實用性機能升格為象徵性。

In a surprise to observers, the President’s desk was not a luxury item from abroad but crafted from the humble and almost obsolete wood plane. Each cut, and chisel was not blessed by the aura of a global brand but possessed the soul of a master craftsman.

出乎外界意料,總統級辦公桌並非國外精品,靠得還是已經日漸淡出生活的鉋刀,一刀一鑿打磨,沒有國際品牌光環加持,但有著職人靈魂。

At the age of 16, Zhan became a woodworker in an era where years of learning were required to ascend from an apprentice to a master. He stated that it was a difficult line of work which included unavoidable occupational injuries from constantly pushing blades with the palms.

詹益農16歲當上製鉋師傅,過去學徒要出師得花上三年四個月學習。他說這行太辛苦,手掌推磨刀具要不斷使力,做久了難免有職業傷害。

In the eyes of old craftsmen, today’s youth are smart, but the advancements of society also represent increased temptations; apprentices, taken in the past, ran off after learning one or two techniques, they lack the patience to put in the time to fully learn a craft. At 75, Zhan’s hands have experienced a lifetime and are covered with calluses; today’s apprentices no longer have these types of hands.

在老師傅的眼光中,現代年輕人很聰明,但社會發達、誘惑也變多,以前收過學徒,但學了一兩招就跑走,對要長久鑽研一項技藝多半沒有耐心。75歲,雙手滄桑布滿厚繭,現在的學徒不會再有這雙手。

A special expo, entitled “Fu Bao”, showing off woodworking planes was held this year at Twin Oaks Estate in Washington DC in October. Curator Chen Tien-li remarks that the wood plane is a shared language between passionate woodworkers across the globe; in the past, planes were commonly found in daily life and used in the crafting of items such as laundry boards and window lattice. Today, as the technique gradually becomes obsolete, Chen views planing culture as an unsung hero in everyday life.

「福鉋」特展將於今年10月前進華府雙橡園,策展人陳殿禮表示,鉋刀是全世界木藝愛好者的共通語言,過去民間生活中鉋刀無所不在,從刨製洗衣板再到打磨、製作窗櫺都由專門鉋刀包辦,鉋刀近年則在技術轉變下逐漸退居幕後,但陳殿禮看鉋刀文化,倒像是生活裡的無名英雄。

Industrialized societies quickly produce products from production lines that emphasize efficiency, specifications and uniformity. People in the past believed that slower work produced exquisite detail, but “slow work” in modern society is often viewed as inefficient, slow and at a disadvantage. People today use machines to produce food items and buy instant products in convenient stores; slowly producing a laundry board or wood barrel using a wood plane just does not translate into the language of economic benefits.

工業化社會中產品多由生產線快速生產,講求效率、規格、整齊劃一,以前人說慢工出細活,在當代社會中「慢工」多半被解讀為效率低落,速度不夠快先輸人,於是現代人用機器做柴魚片、買超商速成產品,用鉋刀慢慢做洗衣板與木桶也許已經不符合經濟效益。

If you were to ask the meaning of using a wood plane in this era, Chen believes that the use of wood planes summons the memories of our citizens: “This is a skill, but it is also a memory.”

若要問當代繼續使用鉋刀的意義何在,陳殿禮表示,使用鉋刀的意義是希望能喚起國人的記憶:「這是skill(技藝),也是memory(記憶)。」

Aside from cultural heritage, memories also played a part in the development of mechanical equipment after industrialization as they were all derived from hand tools and instruments. “Innovation must preserve traditional culture and memories. Industrialization, in all the countries of the globe, is based on culture, especially using culture as a brand; it’s very difficult to establish brands without culture,” he says.

記憶除了是對文化的傳承,也在於工業化後所有機械設備的發展都是源於手工器具,「要創新必須保有傳統文化跟記憶,世界各國發展工業都是以文化為基底,特別是將文化當作品牌這件事,沒有文化很難成就品牌。」

In recent years, the market has been hit by a wave of nostalgia for items and instruments from the past. “Cultural products” have emerged and the culture of handcrafted items is slowly catching on; retro items are at the forefront of fashion and reflect not just taste and life experiences, but also industrialization. People admire the artistry and advantage of handcrafted products, each produced item having slight differences. Handcrafted items are rare and unique and can display the master’s spirit and pride in their craft.

近年市場上吹起了一股對往事器物的懷念,「文化商品」異軍突起、手工文化逐漸流行,正是所謂的復古的事物最新潮,除了表彰品味和生活體驗,也變成對工業生產模式的反思。民眾欣賞手工品帶來的藝術性與優勢,每次產出的商品都有些許不同,手工品稀有且獨特,說得抽象點,在於商品看得見創作者的靈魂,也就是職人精神與匠魂。

It is possible that a handcrafted Presidential desk is not odd when comparing the muted elegance of a desk crafted from the hands of an experienced master and professional craftsman, to an over-marketed product. The thinking is that if consumers acknowledge the cultural content of a product, they will naturally pay a higher purchasing price. That is how Japanese master craftsmen Akiyama Mokkou is able to serve clients such as the Imperial Household Agency and the National Diet Building while achieving revenue of up to a billion dollars with only a 34-person company.

或許總統桌採用純手工製並不奇怪,一張出自老師傅和專業工匠之手的桌子相較於過度包裝、過度行銷的商品顯然多了一點況味,其背後的思維在於如果消費者認同商品的文化內涵,自然也會付出較高的成本取得,於是日本有著高端職人魂「秋山木工」,少少的34人株式會社營業額卻高達十億,從宮內廳到國會議事堂都是他的客戶。

First establishing the culture, then creating international brands, Japan is an ideal model for the development of industry and culture in Taiwan; the concept of localized globalization allows for the preservation of one’s roots in an industrialized society under globalization. Simon Wang explains that the Japanese understood the importance of crafts much earlier than the Taiwanese; the root of brands is culture, and culture can be observed in simple labor. “Instead of resisting craftsmanship, the Japanese use it to soothe the soul in today’s capitalistic society.”

先有文化爾後有國際品牌,日本一直作為台灣在產業、文化發展上的理型,背後的思維則是「在地全球化」,在全球化與工業化社會中把持住自己的根。王永寧表示,日本人比台灣人更早意識到手藝的重要,品牌的根本是文化,文化則見於單純的勞作中,「日本人不抗拒手藝,而是在這個資本社會中讓手藝安撫心靈。」

In the past, post-war Taiwan gradually climbed out of poverty through manufacturing, then processing, then technology industries. The Taiwanese sparked economic miracles with nothing but the shirts on their backs but once they acquired wealth, problems unrelated to the economy began to appear. “For a long while, the Taiwanese championed the economy and only looked at results. When the national income exceeded US$20,000, we discovered that we had enough in life, but our spirits had become very empty.”

過去,戰後的台灣從貧窮中逐漸往上爬,經歷製造業、加工業再到科技業,台灣人篳路藍縷拚出經濟奇蹟,生活富足後卻開始出現經濟之外的困境,「台灣人有一段時間重視的是經濟、重視成果,當大家所得超過兩萬美金,我們發現生活充足了,但精神變得很空虛。」

In the words of Simon Wang, our spirits have “caught a cold.” “Competitive ability is an economic problem, but we have to discuss spirit, as our competitive spirit, is very fragile due to the inability to find a path for ourselves.” That is why some have involved themselves in seal carving, weaving, tea ceremonies. Through purchasing or hand-making items, people search for the medicine to treat their spiritual cold; using vocabulary common in recent years, these acts have a healing nature and these things heal us”.

用王永寧的說法是精神「感冒」了,「競爭力是經濟問題,但我們想談論的是精神,我們精神的競爭力很脆弱,在於找不到一條給自己的路。」於是有人遁入篆刻、編織、茶道,透過購買或自己動手做,在其中尋找治癒精神感冒的良藥,用近年市場上最常見的語彙便是「療癒系」、「這很療癒啊」。

Simon Wang explains that people today, are easily angered owing to excessive mental stress. The source of this stress is money because Taiwanese want to make money but also realize that money is not the end of it. When a school established a woodworking classroom, applicants were mostly middle class or company managers who used woodworking to offset pressure from work. In addition to creating value, traditional crafts and techniques are also gradually becoming therapeutic labor.

王永寧說,現代人容易暴躁、精神壓力過大,壓力源自於金錢,台灣人想賺錢卻又發現錢不是真理。學校開設木工教室後,報名者多為中產階級和公司主管,工作壓力大就靠學木藝舒壓,傳統手工藝技術除了創造產值,也逐漸變成療癒系勞作。

People today, are returning to their roots, but experienced masters probably do not know whether to laugh or to cry, with the knowledge that the reemergence of traditional crafts is due to work pressure in society.

現代人返璞歸真,但傳統勞作的實踐竟然是源自於社會上的工作壓力,恐怕會讓老師傅哭笑不得,但王永寧說,也許療癒只是初步。

However, Simon Wang believes that healing may only be the first step and that, if crafting can be integrated into our lives, this may open up the possibility of continuation and heritage. “Integration is becoming a part of life, just as in Japan where tea ceremonies elevate the techniques and crafts into life, then further into art.” Only when a change occurs internally, making it not just an independent skill, but a part of everyday life, can it truly transform lives.

但若能藉此將勞作融入生活,對技藝而言便能直接開啟延續跟傳承的可能,「融入、變成生活的一部分,就像日本的茶道,把技藝與勞作提升到生活的層次,進而昇華成藝術。」當它不再是門獨立技藝而是融入生活成為其中的一部分,從內轉變,才能真正改變生命。