The 2013 Salt and Sand Sculpture Arts Festival

Getting to Know the Southwest Coast

Text: Editorial Dept.

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The flat southwest coast area of Yunnan County, Chiayi County, and Tainan City, a region of many lagoons and estuary wetlands, was once home to a long stretch of salt fields. During the Ming and Qing dynasties the landscape became an almost unbroken one of saltwater marshes, salt pans, and the settlements of salt-industry workers. The sun worked its magic on thin layers of sea water brought into the shallow pans, leaving behind precious white crystal. During Taiwan’s period of Japanese colonial rule (1895-1945), the Japanese government made Taiwan the center of its salt production and encouraged locals to cultivate salt pans on a massive scale. After its invasion of China, local industrial-salt production rose to 400,000 tons a year to meet demand.

The focus of development has evolved from meeting daily needs to industrial materials to the tourism/recreation industry and biotechnology. Local production is now mechanized. In recent years, edible salt has been introduced into a range of gourmet treats and other local specialty products that have proven very popular, such as Qigu Salt Mountain salt popsicles, Taiwan Salt Museum salt coffee, colorful themed salt shakers, and lucky-bath salts. The salt mountain and museum are two of the key salt industry-related attractions in the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area, which stretches along the coast though sections of Tainan, Chiayi, and Yunnan.

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Qigu Salt Mountain and Taiwan Salt Museum two of the key salt industry-related attractions in the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area.

Today’s Mashagou Coastal Recreation Area was well-known as a scenic destination even way back in the old days. This, along with the district’s Jiangjun Harbor and the sweeping expanse of old salt fields, creates a canvas of sweeping beauty. The recreation area is a popular destination to beat the summer heat, with swimming, jet-skiing, and banana boating on offer.

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The Salt and Sand Arts Festival fuses the attractions of the above-described creative products, salt-industry culture, and the joys of the sandy beach. There will be displays of ingenious works of art sculpted from the local salt and sand, sightseeing tours highlighting the best that the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area has to offer, musical performances, bike and ATV rentals, and much else. The largest work last year, entitled Tainan Legend, was 15 meters wide and seven tall. This is the second year that the festival is being staged, branding May and June as the area’s arts season.

It will run from May 12 through June 30, with the official opening staged on Sunday, May 5 at 10am at Qigu Salt Mountain, which is the main venue for the various salt-sculpture activities, with Taiwan Salt Museum and Taiwan Salt LOHAS Village serving as secondary sites.

For more information about the area visit the website of the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area at www.swcoast-nsa.gov.tw.

English and Chinese

  • Jiangjun Harbor 將軍海港
  • Mashagou Coastal Recreation Area 馬沙溝濱海遊憩區
  • Qigu Salt Mountain 七股鹽山
  • Tainan Legend 台南傳奇
  • Taiwan Salt LOHAS Village 台灣鹽樂活村
  • Taiwan Salt Museum 台灣鹽博物館