Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Creative Arts


The Cochin ceramic is a fragile and delicate folk art, with a high aesthetic value. It was introduced to Taiwan from China two hundred years ago, and gradually developed and matured in Taiwan, resulting in a unique Taiwanese art form. Cochin ceramic was extensively used as architectural decorations for temples, family worship sites or luxurious houses in Taiwan before the 1950s. The ceramic figurines have the functions of decoration, and their auspicious symbols can fend off wicked forces and are emblems for a fortunate life. The legendary stories have scenes with Chinese moral and ethical adages which serve as cultural messages to the population. Cochin ceramic scenes and figures were closely bound with the people’s lives, and contained the essence of Taiwan folk art as a distinctive artistic history. After the 1950s Cochin ceramic was mainly used only in Taiwanese temples. Due to a lack of recognition of its important heritage significance, most of the early made Cochin ceramic in Taiwan is disappearing. My research emphasizes that it is important to preserve and keep a record of this valuable ceramic history. This thesis explores the decorative Cochin ceramics in Taiwanese temples from the 1910s-1990s, mainly focusing on the investigation of one of the most famous Chinese potters Hong Kunfu (ca.1885-1945) and five of his Taiwanese apprentices. The main purpose of my research is to document Hong’s origins, development of his school, their technique, and the stylistic characteristics of their works. This study demonstrates how their achievements have contributed to the development of Taiwanese Cochin ceramic. Through my fieldwork in Taiwan and China, I discovered more details of Hong’s School and the techniques and culture of Taiwanese Cochin ceramic. Based on the data collected, I have classified and compared the different features of Cochin ceramic work, and identified the difference styles among Hong School craftsmen. The thesis is organized as an exploration of the origin of Cochin ceramic, its evolution in Taiwan and a biographical sketch of Hong Kunfu and his successors, and their art works in Taiwan. This documenting of the existing Cochin figures helps the appreciation of a precious heritage in Taiwan.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.