Bunun shirt

Tags: aborigine | Bunun | clothing

Among the Bunun tribe, weaving was women’s work only and men were strictly prohibited from it. Clothing was made from woven cloth and animal hides. To make cloth, raw plant materials had to be cultivated, gathered, processed and dyed, all by hand. Traditionally, cloth was woven mainly from ramie, a type of Asian hemp. Later, cotton thread and yarn were introduced. The earliest Bunun clothing did not have any patterns and only possessed one color—the natural color of the ramie. The patterns on the hundred pace pit viper created inspiration for weavers and they began to appear in different forms and motifs on clothing. Today, the Bunun call the hundred pace pit viper “kaviath”, which means “friend”.

This type of shirt was worn by males of the tribe and considered ordinary clothing. It is formed from two pieces of untailored woven cloth. They are folded so that each piece forms part of the front and back, and are stitched together in a raised seam down the back using yellow, pink, green and black yarn. The seam length is approximately 62cm. At 16cm from the top and bottom, white cotton thread was used to sew the inner part of the seam. The arm openings measure about 20 cm. White cotton thread forms the inner seam for about 61cm all the way to the lower hem. This shirt has no buttons or ties in the front. The most impressive part is the embroidered patterns on both sides of the opening in the front and above and below the sleeves. The patterns were made using multiple colors and are about 22cm in length and about 8cm in width. They extend down the back to about 9cm above the hem line.

The warp was made using white, black and yellowish orange threads and the weft using white thread. The materials are spun ramie and yarn. Both weaving and embroidery are evident. Patterns include straight lines, triangles, rhombi, and mosaic, etc., made with yarn. The colors include white, black, yellowish orange, pink, light blue, yellowish brown, blue, yellow, green and ash.

This shirt is originally from Yanping Township of Taitung County.


Department of Graphic Communications and Digital Publishing, Shih Hsin University Digital archiving project of the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines