Costumes of Taiwanese Aborigines –Decorations of the Upper Body

Tags: aborigine | accessory | jewelry

The aboriginal people in Taiwan have a great affection for body decorations, whether they are men or women. Decorations of the upper body include head accessories, earrings, necklaces, breast ornaments, armlets, bracelets, rings, etc. The materials used primarily contain jades, shells, animal teeth and bones, hide (or fur), precious metals (silver and bronze), buttons, coins, glass beads, and flowers and plants. These accessories fully represent the aesthetics and the value of these tribal cultures. The Atayal Tribe, who are renowned for the excellence in beadwork, manufacture delicate shell beads with tridacna (fluted giant clam). These shell beads are not only decorated on long garments, but made into necklaces, both of which are ideal for dowry and transaction media. There are also various styles of earrings. People of the Ami Tribe make earrings, necklaces and breast ornaments by grinding shells. Both males and females of this tribe think highly of crest and head accessories, while males of the Tsou Tribe are experts in tanning leather into clothes which they wear. They also wear armlets made of teeth from wild boars and human hair, as well as earrings of ground shells. Hanging down from their leather hats are long feathers of pheasants. In the Paiwan and the Rukai Tribes, ornaments are, more often than not, worn by the nobles. Glass beads and cowrie-beaded strings are in particular restricted to the usage of their nobles only. Moreover, the patterns of their clothes are extremely intricate and exquisite. Feathers of eagles appear to be generally decorated on their head accessories worn by both males and females. The head accessories belonging to those among the chieftain rank are decorated with feathers of male eagles, symbolizing the highest glory. Some tribal habitants in Butsul Paiwan and Rukai Tribe wear lilies to represent the virtues of chastity and prowess of hunting. The Tao Tribe (also called the Yami Tribe) living on the Orchid Island make delicate ornaments with their own hands, among which there exists explicit distinctness between those of males and females. When it is time for them to dress up, Tao males wear silver helmets, breast ornaments dangling a slice of golden foil and silver bracelets, while the females wear hair accessories decorated with buttons, strings of agate beads, or necklaces made of nautilus.
內容發展分項計畫 人類學主題小組

Collections of Taiwanese Aborigines—Decorations of the Upper Body

Former title: Bracelet

Title in English: bracelet
Title in vernacular: yoyora
  • Subject, keywords: tribe of possession: the Ami Tribe
  • Description: usage: people of the Ami Tribe normally wear two or three bracelets, however some of them wear six or eight up to the most. Wearing more bracelets suggests the more wealth the owner possesses. The males of the Ami Tribe prefer bright-colored bracelets, so its females compete with one another by wearing them as such. Moreover, the ornaments worn around wrists mean to be inherited from mothers to daughters, so they should be identified as both personal belongings and family treasures.
  • Portrayal: the body decoration items of the Ami Tribe can be approximately divided into seven major categories: head accessories, earrings, necklaces, breast ornaments, bracelets, waist ornaments and anklets. Waist ornaments include bangles and armlets, with the former used by the males and the latter by the females. In the Ami Tribe tradition, only adults are allowed to wear accessories. The number of items and the extent of the preciousness of them indicate the wealth and the social status of the owner. Materials like bones and teeth used to make accessories symbolize the brevity the wearer, meanwhile they enhance better visual effect and convey the implication of glory. Materials and styles of accessories provide positive proof of the external contact that the Ami Tribe used to keep with the outsiders. We have been notified of the impact that the Netherlanders, the Hans, and the Japanese had on the decoration items used in the Ami Tribe thanks to the import of new materials and decoration items.
  • Material: iron
  • Manufacturing skills: founding, grinding
  • IDItem no.: 3301

Former title: Bracelet
Title in English: silver bracelet
Title in vernacular: pacinoken
  • Subject, keywords: tribe of possession: The Yami Tribe
  • Description: usage: pacinoken is unisex and can be worn by males and females in the Yami Tribe in the occasions of important festivals or ceremonies.
  • Portrayal: this accessory is worn when people of the Ami spend the days of essential festivals and ceremonies. Or when celebrating a giant fish were caught.
  • Material: thin, metallic slice
  • Manufacturing skill: forging, flatting, cutting
  • IDItem no.3379

Former title: Bracelet
Formal Title: Silver bracelet
Title in English: Silver bracelet
Title in vernacular: kaljate
  • Subject, keywords: tribe of possession: The Paiwan Tribe
  • Description: Use for decoration
  • Portrayal: silver bracelets are generally worn by females but observed only during the time of grand feasts. In order for the convenience of chores, the bracelets are kept well in the jewelry caskets.
  • IDItem no.3169