The Aboriginal Crafts of Taiwan -- Rattan and Gourd Work

Museum of Ethnic Cultures, Minzu University of China

Art in Objects from Daily Life 

Rattan weaving is an important craft among the indigenous tribes of Taiwan. It is used to make many of the items used most in daily life, from clothing and hats to food containers. In each case it is the durability, flexibility, and breathability of woven rattan vines that make them an ideal material for use in a hot and humid climate.

This creel is one of the fishing instruments of Taiwan’s indigenous tribes. They are made in a variety of styles, mostly with wide bellies, open tops and narrow necks.

Fishing was an important means of livelihood for both the Amis and the Atayals, who lived near the sea, as well as for other tribes who lived by rivers.

Rattan baskets are breathable, which makes them great food storage containers.

Rattan baskets, which are both light-weight and sturdy, are common tools for carrying things in mountainous areas.

rattan skins are used to weave the body of the basket, while the cores are used to make the frame.

The four long leggings, wide belts and backboards can all ease the burden of carrying heavy loads in baskets.

When making the baskets, people usually peal the skin off the core of the rattan vine. The skin is tough but flexible, while the rattan cores are hard enough to provide support.

The four legs of the basket give room under the bottom, which not only protect the bottom from abrasion, extending its lifetime of usage, but also protects the food from moisture.

Rattan hats are distinctive head-wear worn by Taiwan indigenous men.

Rattan hats vary in shape and were made of whatever was locally available.

Rattan hats are usually lined with coconut husks for comfort.

Gourds are abundant in Taiwan, and play an important role in the indigenous cultures of the island. Aside from use as food, locals have used them to make all kinds of containers. Larger gourds are used to store grain or clothes, while smaller ones are used for containing wine or water. Gourds can also be used as floatation devices when crossing rivers, and as containers when travelling. The possession of large quantities of gourds was a symbol of wealth. 
Nationalities Museum, Minzu University
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