Although Nanfangao port, Ilan County is a small fishing village, it is also the mother port of Taiwan’s coral industry. It has always maintained an important position in the history of Taiwan’s coral industry.
Lai Rung-Hsing a local who has engaged in coral carvings for many years is worried the delicate coral art pieces are being taking away so he decided to establish the Coral Museum to display works of coral, to introduce coral production lands within and without Taiwan and the extracting process. He also sells coral pieces and makes an important witness for Nanfangao’s coral culture achieving the functions of education and recording information.
80% of the world’s expensive deep ocean coral is grown in the waters near Taiwan. During the most prosperous times of Taiwan’s coral industry there were over 400 boats in Nanfangao alone harvesting coral. However, due to the decaying of the coral industry there are only about 50 boats harvesting coral today.
The Coral Museum which is hidden in an alley is a white, three story building. The 1st floor gift shop can be entered free of cost. The 2nd and 3rd floor display areas charge a NT$100 fee to help with cleaning costs. On the 2nd floor all types of coral are displayed and is also talks about the history of harvesting coral locally. There are many pictures on the wall showing precious rocks and coral that had been collected and it talks about the process of producing coral artworks. The 3rd floor is where Lai Rung-Hsing displays his coral artwork. He has taken his study of Buddhism and mixed it with his coral carving. The fragile texture of the coral is turned into exquisite art pieces under his knife. Examining it up close you feel amazed at the wonderful work of the sculptor.
The Coral Museum is open every day from 9:00A.M.-12:00P.M. and from 1:00P.M.-5:00P.M. The museum provides free tour guides. Simple tours last about 30 minutes and more in depth tours last about 2 hours.