CyberFair Project ID: 4399

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Erbashuei Renaissance - Ink Stone Carving
Category: 8. Local Music and Art Forms

School: Fushing Elementary School
    Changhua, Changhua, Taiwan

6 students, ages 10-11 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on February 12, 2006. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2005

Classes and Teachers: Director Hsieh Yu-tien, Mr. Kuo Shu-yuan, Ms. Su Chia-ling

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Ershui, the southernmost small township of Changhua County, is located at the north of Cho-shui River and the southern end of Bagua Mountain. In early times, Ershuei served as not only a traffic pivot of mountains and plains but also a distributing center. However, as a mountainous area with few farms, the obstruction of mountains and rivers, the construction of railroads, and a continual brain drain, Ershui has turned into a depressed area. But, in recent years, the affection for communities has been promoted, combining the cultural and historical remains, natural scenery, agriculture, and the cultural industry - Loshi Ink Stones, which brings a brand-new style for Ershui.

2. Summary of Our Project

'Ink Stone' and 'writing brush, paper, ink' are the 4 treasures of the Chinese study, and the indispensable tools for writing and painting. As ink stones are practical and the creation of art and carving, liberal artists' passion for them is no less than for jade stones.

The longest river in Taiwan, Choshui River, was used to called Loshi River. From its upstream to the riverbed once called 'Erbashui', the present Chunghua Ershui, the stones collected from the river are suitable for making ink stones, and are thus called 'Loshi Ink Stones'. As Loshi stones are rich in color, artists are provided with a larger space for creation and revitalizing Loshi stones with practical and artistic values, which are even superior to that of Duan ink slabs or She ink stone in China.

The Ink Stone carving in Ershui started during the Japanese occupation in 1899 and was developed to the zenith during the retrocession era. Later, due to the waning of art of calligraphy and the development of ink as an industrial product, ink stones were not paid attention to at some time. About 10 years ago, many artists dedicated to the art of ink stone carving, began to develop the art into a classic one, thus initiating another renaissance of Loshi Ink Stones.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:1

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:4-6

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):

In the school, we used computers with optical fibers that served as the main structure connecting to the Information Center in the school, and linking up to TANet with T3. In our homes, we used dialups or ADSL to connect to the Internet for information searching and uploading.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

(1)Interview Subjects: There are many ink stone workshops and stone galleries on Yuanchi Road in Ershui Township, and many amateur masters all live in a different place. Thus, in the beginning, it really took us a lot of time to discuss about whom we would approach. At last, after a final discussion with the teachers, the following principles were concluded: 1. The interviewees have to live near, so it is more convenient to conduct the interview; 2. The interviewees have experience in cooperating with academic institutes; 3. Select several artists from each generation, but no more than 10 in total, to conduct the interview within our capacity. Through the assistance of our teachers to contact the artists, finally the list was hammered out.

(2)Professionalism: Our study focused on Ershui Loshi ink stones, and our interviewees were masters in making Loshi ink stones, so we had to ask questions pertaining to professional knowledge and skills, such as the history of ink stones, features of Loshi ink stones, the process of making ink stones, and the name of each part. We had to learn all the above information, so our teachers became the emergency provider of knowledge. Shall we come up with any question, it is always right to ask the teachers. No matter we had to collect the data from past literatures, search over the Internet, or contact the ink stone experts directly, any kind of problem could be solved with our cooperation with the teachers. Thus, we had a chance to learn more about the art of ink stone carving and Loshi ink stones.

(3)The application of digital equipment and software: It was no problem for us to search for information online, but what we got was only indirect information. As a result, direct information such as voices or images during the interviews was so important to us. Digital voice recorders and cameras became our good helpers. With the instructions from our teachers, the effects and results were completely satisfying.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

( 1 ) We should show more respects to these precious inkslab masters and further encourage them. All the more necessary is to take a serious attitude towards passing on this unique handicraft from generation to generation. We wish more and more people would recognize the real value of this unique local culture.

( 2 ) Our team members improved significantly on their eloquence, the ability to express themselves and the way to think of questions. The most important thing is that every member has fully understood the value of cooperation, of learning from team work and of appreciating each others.

6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

* The process of carrying out the project required interpersonal relations and communication skills. For instance, the contact before interview and the face-to-face interview have given the students a good chance to obtain the precious experience. And through this project, they were able to spend more time to think, retrospect, and care the land they grew up on, and also learned the impact of the changes of time on artists and local residents through data collection and interviews.

* In this project, we had the chance to appreciate a variety of ink stone carving works by several masters. And from these works, we could see the different presentation and meanings they attempted to express. As we had to organize and compare the differences, we attempted to categorize the works. This allowed us to acquire more knowledge about artistic appreciation. And with the assistance of each teacher on data collection and interview, we not only acquired precious artistic knowledge, but also enhanced our interest in arts. In addition, in a field trip to Chuoshuei River to pick stones and practice carving ink stones, we experienced the hardship of making ink stones and the efforts these masters had to make.

* Data organization and collection for the projects cultivated students' ability in deduction and judgment. The application of technological tools encompassed: the use of the Internet to look for data and train student's ability to search on the network databases, the use of voice recorder, encoding, photographing skills, and the use of various application software. At last, the design and presentation of web pages allowed them to learn something of a higher level in the field of life technology. Besides, as we had to study the source of stone materials for Loshi ink stones, we also learned the categories and properties of several stones.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

*Desktop computers and one laptop computer:Making web pages, uploading pictures, integrating information

*Software (Flash, Photoshop, PhotoImpact, Dreamweaver 4, Word, CDex V1.05, and so on) ):These pieces of software made it easier for us to make web pages.

*The Internet:Filling out the Process Report, searching for related information on inkstones, viewing and emulating the CyberFair projects in the past.

*Floppy disks:Storing data and pictures

*Two pocket disks:A good tool for classifying and arranging the data.

*External harddisks :Storing data and pictures

*External CD Burners :Storing data and pictures

*One digital voice recorder :Recording the interview to prevent from forgetting the contents and help gathering more information.

*Three digital cameras :Taking pictures for the project

*Scanners :Scanning the printed data and information.

*Printers :Printing out the information first to facilitate editing.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

(1)Little Reporters (to interview in person) : Through the interview and interact with Master Dong Zuo to get the first hand information. At the forefront to understand the difficulty of making inkslab and to witness the birth of a masterpiece from Master Dong Zuo's hands.

(2)Little Inkslab Teacher (to experience of making inkstone) : From picking up a stone from the riverbed to finish his or her final product of inkslab; According to what we have been taught by Master Dong Zuo, we set out to make our own inkslab so as to realize the difficulty in making one.

(3)Little Lecturers : After a period of time, every team member has acquired certain knowledge about Luosishih inkstone . Team members then undertake the job of promoting the culture of Luosishih inkstone in school, by letting more people understand the value of their own culture treasures.

(4)Research Experts (to collect information) : Apart from our first hand information, we still need to do some research on the Internet and books in order to verify all the data. For that reason Internet and Reference Libraries became a new world for us , and we were able to compare our first hand information with the search results from Internet and books and choose the correct ones. It is also an effective way of showing the information to more people via Internet.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

Last semester, in the art and liberal art course, the 5 th and 6 th graders had the chance to visit Mr. Tung Tso's workshop. Even though all of us grew up in Ershuei, when Mr. Tung Tso asked us if we have ever visited his workshop before, no one raised his hand. It was a complicated feeling, but I don't know how to express it. I was thinking, if the local people had little understanding about the culture of their hometown, how could them demand people outside the town to pay attention to it. The study of Loshi ink stones allowed us to appreciate the beauty of Loshi ink stones and also calm our souls. The local spirit and the conscious of the community is so close to us.

During our interviews, we discovered and were moved by the passion, devotion, persistence, and worries over cultural heritage of every ink stone carving master. They adhered to the persistence of an artist and their ideal, and spared no efforts to the creation of ink stone works. With their skills and innovations, they could turned cold stones into astonishing works and further enhance ink stones from a stationery item to an artistic work, from a practical item to a work for appreciation. The efforts made were only intended to root the culture of ink stone carving into the soil of Ershuei as well as the hearts of the next generation.

Artists are human too. They must care about the most basic daily problems, we must pay attention to. There are many amateur ink stone carving masters in Ershuei, but why can't they fully devote themselves into ink stone carving? The reason is unstable income, and they can't find a balance between interest and economic problems. This is really a signal of warning for the artistic and cultural heritage. This has given us a chance to contemplate; while we are much satisfied in various way, we must feel grateful and contented with the environment we are in.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

Looking back at the entire research process, we must admit that without our teachers' instructions and assistance, we might not be able to finish this first research in our lives. Because of their explicit support, we could grow amid the highs and lows. So we'd like to express our innermost gratitude to our teachers. Thank you.

*Ink Stone Carving Masters : Mr. Wu Wen-fu, Chang Hung-pin, Chang Fang-chieh, Chang Yin-hsien, Tung Wen-ping, Tung Tso, Tung Yin-fang, Tsai Lung-hsiung, Hsieh Chung-yi (in the order of strokes) We really thank them for their assistance and teaching, allowing us to carry out the project smoothly, learn some artistic knowledge, and experience more of the cultural heritage.

*School Teachers : Principal Hsu Hsiao-ling, Director Hsieh Tien-yu, Ms. Lin Shiao-feng, Ms. Su Jia-ling, and Mr. Kuo Shu-yuan. They have been with us throughout the project, always providing professional knowledge about ink stones and all kinds of information related to computer and digital devices. Whenever we encountered any trouble, it was always right for us to ask them for help. Besides, when we were down, they would show up at the right time and encourage us.

*People in the Community : Mr. Shen Chien-hua, Pi-Chao's mother, Chen-Yun's mother, Chia-Li's father, Yi-Ting's father, En-Ru's father, and Chien-Wen's auntie. Because of their support and assistance, every interview was carried out successfully and smoothly. And whenever we had any problem, we could ask these parents first.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

* The Meaning of Life: “Life is to love and develop a unique person, implement and live in a harmonious relation with the world.” We discovered this characteristic from the ink carving masters. They love the work they engage in. From carrying the stones on the Chuoshuei riverbed to fantasizing various ideas, they just focus their belief on a slab of ink stone.

* Visiting Art: Without this CyberFair project, we might not be able to appreciate the outstanding works by so many masters. When each master introduced their works, we could hear exclamations all the time, praising the creation and skills of these masters. And we also couldn't help but dream to make the same kind of work one day. In the process, in addition to Loshi ink stones, we had deeper understanding about art. We wanted to know more about it, and even introduce it to our friends.

* Cooperation, Tolerance, and Appreciation: Since we participated in the CyberFair contest, we've experienced highs and lows, happiness and hardness. From the initial data collection, preparation for interviews, organization after school, process report and teachers' reminders, each step was so fulfilled. Without the encouragement of each member, we could have given up. In our discussions, sometimes we had different opinions. If everyone insisted and couldn't accept others' opinions, this study could have been stalled. Thanks to our sufficient communication, we could accept others' opinions. In the second half of the study, we collected, carved, and polished the stones ourselves. We were not skillful, but we all knew we were the best. Thanks to all the supports and encouragement. Our friendship will be more solid, because we share a unique memory.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 4399)

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