Down a tiny little backstreet in Taipei City surrounded by hardware stores is just what you don’t expect to find ~ a shop full of rows and rows of tiny little Chinese characters!
This article titled, “6 Things You Didn’t Know About Rixing Type Foundry, The Last Traditional Chinese Letterpress In Taiwan” on the City 543 website says,
“The Rixing Type Foundry (日星鑄字行) is home to the last remaining collection of traditional Chinese movable type character moulds in the world, plying its trade for more than four decades with techniques that have been recognized since the Song Dynasty in 1040s… In the 1960s, Taipei alone was home to 5,000 printing presses churning out a seemingly unquenchable deluge of work. Forty years later, only 30 establishments remain, and Rixing is the last print foundry in the capital….
Chinese script has no alphabet. Instead it consists of words made up of one to two characters, one of which can comprise of up to 25 strokes. Rixing has one of the largest collections of three-dimensional Chinese characters in Taiwan, with 120,000 moulds of different characters and more than 10 million lead character pieces.”
Apparently the world’s largest collection of traditional Chinese movable type. Wow!
There’s another article here from the Taipei Times in May interviewing the owner, Chang Chieh-kuan (張介冠), son of the founder, who is worried about the future of the foundry. He was busy working out the back while I was there today.
This is one of the old letterpress machines – made in Taichung no less….
There’s another article here form Neocha Magazine with lots of artistic photos…..
And a Facebook page at Ri Xing Type Foundry …
The characters are all organized of course, this one happens to have 聖 ‘sheng’, meaning ‘holy’ right in the middle….
This one has the numbers at the top, going right to left…
And there’s 3 fonts and 7 different sizes…
So if you have a spare 30 minutes in Taipei, do check this place out ~ it’s fascinating! They make Chinese stamp seals, so I got one for my name (李凱玲 Lee Kai-Ling – the big character on the left is the ‘Lee’)…. this is it!
And this is the very unassuming main entrance…. there’s hardly even a signboard!
A great place, even if the temps in Taipei today were 36°C but feeling apparently like 40! Wow!