The Aboriginal Crafts of Taiwan -- Woodwork

Art in Objects from Daily Life

By Museum of Ethnic Cultures, Minzu University of China

Museum of Ethnic Cultures, Minzu University of China

Sorcery Box Decorated with Shell Pieces (Front) (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Wood

Woodworking is am important part of the cultures of the aboriginal tribes of Taiwan. Ornately carved wooden objects were used in every facet of their daily lives, from spoons to boats. The decorative patterns that adorn them illustrate not only the skill of aboriginal woodcarvers, but also give us a glimpse into their spiritual world.

Sorcery Box Decorated with Shell Pieces (Back) (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Augury was an important activity among the indigenous people of Taiwan. People would turn to augury before hunting, sacrifices, marriages, house-building, or opening up new land for farming.

This box is the kind of container used to hold the ritual implements for divination used by shamans. The shamans of the Paiwan people were usually women.

Sorcery Box Decorated with Shell Pieces (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

The kind of box is carved out of a single piece of wood, with an open top and no lid, but instead a twine net covering.

Gunpowder Container Decorated with Inlaid Shell Pieces (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Wood-Carved Pot with Snake (Front) (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Wooden jars usually functioned like ceramic pots, and were believed to possess extraordinary power in the traditional cultures of Taiwan's indigenous tribes.

Besides containing wine or keeping seeds, wooden jars were also used in certain religious rituals.

Wood-Carved Pot with Snake (Top) (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

The motifs carved on mainly depict snakes, human heads, boar and deer.

Wood-Carved Pot with Snake (Back) (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

The Paiwan tribe’s wooden jars are mostly made from rigid logs which were hollowed out and carved with decorations.

This jar is carved with a snake motif, which is the animal totem of the Paiwan tribe.

Wood-Carved Dagger Scabbard (Front) (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Knives were usually made in the shape of a leaf, less than 33cm in length, with a wooden scabbard, and were worn around the waist using a rattan belt.

The scabbard is decorated with geometric patterns. The parts with lighter color and the two ears are the places where rattan strips were wrapped.

Wood-Carved Dagger Scabbard (Back) (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Pipe Bowl of a Man Riding a Pig (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Museum of Ethnic Cultures, Minzu University of China

Except the Tao (Yami), all the other aboriginal tribes on Taiwan have adopted the habit of smoking, and all use pipes.

People usually use wood as the bowl, and bamboo as the tube. Pipes are usually decorated with motifs of people or animals.

This pipe’s tube was lost before it entered the museum’s collection.

Alarm Bell (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

In old times, alarm bells were used by some tribes like the Rukai to send messages, while today they are still used to send signals. The wooden handle is round on top, like a spoon.

These bells were tied around a messenger’s waist, ringing as they walked, or kept in the public places like temples.

Wooden Boat Model (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Ships were an important mode of transportation for the Tao(Yami). Between 21 and 27 wooden boards were pieced together to form a ship’s hull.

Wooden Boat Model (Feature) (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

The builders used a specific kind of axes which were used only for building ships. There is a traditional Yami saying that “Wooden boat craftsmanship makes a true Yami man .”

Duster (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Museum of Ethnic Cultures, Minzu University of China

Wooden Spoon 10 (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Wooden spoon are the most common household utensils for the Paiwan and Bunun tribes.

Wooden Spoon 5 (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Made of boxwood (var. Buxus) or Orange Jessamine (Murraya paniculata), the spoon consists of a small shallow bowl, oval, round or in the shape of a leaf, at the end of a handle.

Wooden Spoon 2 (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

The angle between the bowl and the handle is shallower for those made by the Bunun than for those of the Paiwan.

Wooden Spoon 8 (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Wooden Spoon 3 (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Wooden Spoon 12 (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Museum of Ethnic Cultures, Minzu University of China

Wooden Spoon 1 (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Wooden Spoon 9 (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Wooden Spoon (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Museum of Ethnic Cultures, Minzu University of China

Wooden Spoon 7 (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Mortar, Pestle (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Wood-Carved Head of a Woman (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Wood-Carved Statue of a Hunter Carrying a Pig (Front) (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Hunting was once an important traditional part of the subsistence lifestyle for indigenous Taiwanese tribes.

In the past, each tribe had their own hunting grounds, and these boundaries were respected.

The main hunting weapons were match-lock guns, bows and arrows, darts, knives, nets, and sometimes traps.

Wood-Carved Statue of a Hunter Carrying a Pig (Back) (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Each tribe distributed the game equally among its members, with the head and the tail reserved for the hunter.

Wood-Carved Statue (Female) 2 (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Wood-Carved Statue (Male) (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Wood-Carved Statue (Female) 1 (Collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries)Original Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

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