Inside the brick kiln in Huatan Township

Jinshuncheng Hoffmann Kiln 金順成八卦窯

Jīnshùnchéng Hoffmann Kiln 金順成八卦窯 is located on the eastern Changhua Plain 彰化平原 in Huātán 花壇, a rural township south of Changhua City 彰化市. During the Japanese colonial era this part of Taiwan specialized in brick and ceramic production due to plentiful supplies of high-quality clay, and the industry continued to expand after the arrival of the KMT. This particular kiln only dates back to the early 1960s and is the last of its kind in Changhua. For that reason the county government designated it a historic building in 2010 but very little has been done to clean the site and make it inviting to visitors.

The chimney at Huatan Hoffmann Kiln
The chimney at Huatan Hoffmann Kiln.
A brick kiln in Huatan
The far side of the brick kiln under dusky skies.

The Japanese introduced several kinds of brick and ceramic kilns to Taiwan at the beginning of colonial rule—have a look at the former Tángróng Brick Factory 唐榮磚窯廠 in Kaohsiung 高雄 for some great examples—but it doesn’t sound as if the more efficient1 Hoffmann kiln entered into common use until the KMT authoritarian era and the Taiwan economic miracle of the 1960s. Although “Hoffmann” is formally transliterated as Huòfūmàn 霍夫曼, Taiwanese typically use the colloquial term Bāguà Kiln 八卦窯, a reference to the ubiquitous octagonal symbol of Taoist cosmology. Initially I thought this name might have something to do with this kiln’s location at the base of the Bāguàshān Range 八卦山脈 but this is entirely coincidental.

Broken brick kiln by the roadside in Huatan
The abandoned and overgrown brick kiln on a hazy grey day.
Inside the brick kiln in Huatan Township
Inside the brick kiln in Huatan Township.
Stuck in the oven with me
Stuck in the oven with me).
Where bricks are born
Where bricks were born.
Propping up the brick kiln in Huatan Township
Propping up the brick kiln to prevent collapse.
The entrance to the Huatan Brick Kiln
The entrance to the Huatan Hoffmann Kiln is fashionably overgrown.

According to this blogger the kiln was decommissioned in 1989. A number of other brick kilns in the area have been restored—you can even dine in a kiln should you have the perverse desire to do so—but this one has been left to the elements despite its historic status2. There is no entrance fee or barrier to entry but a sign indicates that it is private property and structurally unsound so proceed with caution. Finding it is a simple matter of watching for the broken chimney while cruising down Highway 137.

Looking out the entrance to the Huatan Brick Kiln
Looking out from the entrance to the space at the roadside.
An old house outside the brick kiln in Huatan Township
An old house outside the brick kiln in Huatan Township. Presumably this was once the office or something. The other buildings on the property are all traditional courtyard homes.

Until 2020 almost nothing was said about this site in English—but this excellent article in the Taipei Times by Steven Crook put an end to that. For more coverage of this place in the Chinese language blogosphere check out posts here, here, here, and here.

  1. More information about the design and history of the Hoffmann kiln can be found here
  2. Official information about this historic site can be found here

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