Consisting of the Chii Lih Museum-Yilan (宜蘭綺麗觀光工廠) and the Chii Lih Museum-Taitung (台東綺麗珊瑚博物館), the Chii Lih Museum (綺麗博物館) is one of the most intriguing museums in the world. Located at Yilan County in northern Taiwan, the Chii Lih Museum-Yilan is a complex that covers an area of 13.6 acres (5.5 hectares), while the Chii Lih Museum-Taitung is situated at Taitung County in Eastern Taiwan, with an area of 1.6 acres (0.7 hectares).
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Launched in June 2017, the Museum in Yilan is the largest tourism factory in Taiwan. It features awesome artifacts made of jade (碧玉), blue chalcedony (藍寶), and gemstone coral (寶石珊瑚), which are usually referred to as Taiwan’s three precious gems (臺灣寶石中的三寶).
There are also rich collections of precious gemstone works designed by various internationally-known artists, such as Japanese creative coral artist Maekawa Taizan, Italian Mediterranean coral artist Aldo Paolillo, French haute couture jewelry artist Khieng, Taiwanese fine jade carving artist Xie Jing-Lin, etc.
There is also a wide variety of other fine artifacts on display, such as jade Buddhist statues and carvings, petrified wood (木化石, literally wood turned into stone), as well as amethyst (紫水晶) and other semiprecious stones.
One of the most striking objects on display is a massive length of petrified wood, which is 118 feet (36 meters) long, and 14 tons in weight. It is one of the longest collections of petrified wood in the world. Another highlight of the Museum is the world’s widest gemstone coral tree, which is 5.4 feet (165 centimeters) wide and 3.1 feet (95 centimeters) high.
This gemstone coral tree was harvested 200 meters below the Pacific Ocean outside northeastern Taiwan. It is regarded as one of the most precious treasures in the museum.
The on-site gemstone factory allows visitors to gain an insight into the manufacturing process of gemstone products in a close-up experience. The museum also conducts DIY jewelry design classes by experienced jewelry designers to teach visitors how to design their own jewelry accessories.
Boasting the world’s largest coral museum, the Chii Lih Museum-Taitung was established in 2013, with an aim to helping more people know more about gemstone coral and boost tourism in the eastern county.
The museum displays different seascapes with a variety of coral gemstones and exhibits many works created by internationally renowned masters. Among them is the world’s largest red coral. It was harvested in 1985 from Taiwan’s offshore waters and then purchased by a Japanese buyer.
It eventually returned to Taiwan 20 years later, and is the iconic item of the museum.
Gemstone coral grows in the sea at a depth of 330 feet (100 meters), with a slow growth rate of 1 cm every 10 years. Gemstone coral is also the only type of gem that cannot be reproduced by humans.
In Asia, precious coral used for jewelry can most notably be found in the Pacific Ocean near Taiwan. As the coral extracted from Taiwan accounts for 80 percent of the world’s production, Taiwan has been globally recognized as the coral gemstone kingdom.
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