The Aboriginal Crafts of Taiwan -- Pottery

Museum of Ethnic Cultures, Minzu University of China

Art in Objects from Daily Life 

In the past, most tribes in Taiwan, except the Atayal and Saisiyat, made pottery, however, this was only done using simple tools, such as wooden pottery pat, bamboo knife, cobblestone, dustpan and basket. However, after the industrial products were commonly used in Taiwan, only the Tao (Yami) people still make potteries for daily usage. Pottery producing is a sacred job, people make sacrifices before commencing, and there are taboos all through the process. 

This kind of pottery is mainly owned by the aristocracy of the Paiwan and Rukai, and is handed down from generation to generation as heirlooms.

There are many legends about the powers associated with these vessels. This kind of pottery is divided into three kinds: feminine, masculine and dual-sexed pottery.

Masculine pottery is carved with snake pattern and the feminine one is carved with snail pattern, while the dual-sexed one has both patterns on it. This pottery was mainly used for religious rituals.

Pottery Pot with Rattan Net and Handle
This vessel was collected by the musuem in the early 1950s, it was most likely used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Note the area on the rattan handle that has been polished smooth from repeated use.

The Tao(Yami) people who live on the island of Lanyu likes making clay figurines. The subjects mainly include people, pig, sheep, cow, marine creatures and small boat… things that they are familiar with in daily life.

While craftsmen making potteries, they make clay figurines like this as toys for kids. From today’s point of view, these are not only kid’s toy, but also artworks with a touch of sincerity.

Museum of Ethnic Cultures
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