Taiwan traditionalists hope to spin old toy for new audience

Mon May 9, 2016 1:16pm EDT
 
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By Damon Lin

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan's ancient folk art of spinning tops is kept alive by a group of enthusiasts who perform intricate tricks with the toys at a temple in Taipei, the capital.

Players of the art, known as 'Gan Le' in Taiwan, set the toys spinning by throwing them a short distance while at the same time inducing rotation by unwinding a string curled around the pointed base.

The eight-member Sanxia Pinpoint Spinning Top Team show off their skills every week at the Hsing Lung temple in the capital, landing the rotating toys on small platforms of varying height and popping balloons after running the tops along strings.

"My hope is to promote this Taiwanese folk memory of spinning tops," Tseng Kuo-hua, who founded the group in 1994, told Reuters.

Traditional forms of entertainment are becoming rare in Taiwan's big cities, but can still be glimpsed in more remote areas.

The efforts of the team, aged from 50 to 80, drew applause from an intrigued crowd.

"I think that traditional culture is slowly disappearing," said one spectator, 20-year-old Chang Chiao-han. "That we still get to see this performance is very special and a lot of fun."

(Writing by Patrick Johnston Editing by Clarence Fernandez)