Shung Ye Museum (顺益台湾原住民博物馆) – The History of Taiwan Formosan Aborigines
Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines was officially opened in June 1994 as an ethnology museum that is dedicated to promoting mutual understanding between different ethnic groups, through research, preservation and exhibition of the material culture of Taiwan indigenous peoples.
The main displays of the museum introduce the natural environment of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples, their daily utensils, clothing and personal decoration, ritual objects and religious life.
Hanging above the entrance to the museum is an art piece entitled “Honor”, created by Sakuliu Pavavalung, a contemporary aboriginal artist. Significant elements include the usage of a feather (a common image across all aboriginal tribes as a symbol of glory and influence), and the inclusion of the themes of birth, militarism, and diligence.
1F – People and Natural Environment
The first floor was a general introduction to the Taiwan indigenous peoples and their geographic distribution are exhibited to display their cultural diversity.
The Yami (Tao) fishing boat 达悟渔船
A typical Tao fishing boat, propelled by an oar, and a sail rigged from coconut palm leaves, goes without a balancing outrigger arrangement. A variety of timbers are used for different parts of the boat. Wooden nails are used in the assembly process and tree root materials for filling in the seams.
The Tao used red, white, and black to paint their fishing boats. They make white paints on their own by grinding seashells into powder and mixing it with resins. The seemingly similar decoration on the boats is actually different according to each village characteristics.
The Tao is perhaps the best known among the Austronesian people for their unique and beautifully decorated plank built boat.
2F – Livelihoods Utensils and Dwellings
The Second-Floor displays include ancestor posts and scale models of a traditional dwelling of the Yami (Tao) and men’s gathering house of the Tsou, the Amis hearth, a life-size Paiwan slate house.
Tao Houses (Yami) 达悟族家屋(雅美)
The year-round climate and many summer typhoon prevalent on Lanyu (Orchid Island) drives Southeast Taiwan inhabitants, The Tao People to develop a semi-subterranean style house which consists of family residences, workshop, verandas and temporary childbirth room.
Amis Hearth 阿美族火塘
Until around a century ago, most Amis homes were constructed of bamboo wicker walls and thatched roofs.
Inside, the pillar might bear some carved decoration while the floor was covered with bamboo or rattan to insulate the house from the dam earth.
The hearth was used to cooking food and keeping warm, and also functioned as a focus for family activities.
The Tao (Yami) would collect clay to make pottery as household utensils or tourist souvenirs. As the clay contains a considerable amount of sands, the finished artwork might be thick and heavy yet very durable!
The Wicker Articles are among the very widespread everyday utensils used by all the Taiwan indigenous groups. Materials used are mainly bamboo and rattan while wicker receptacles include carrying baskets, chests for storing clothing, plates for serving food and small boxes for storing jewellery.
Wicker well-known weaving method is a checker, latticed, twilled, simple oversewn coiled, crossed-splint coiled, and figure of eight border work.
Fishing and Hunting Cultures 渔猎文化
Taiwan’s variety of geographic environments provided all the natural resources required to meet the needs for aborigines livelihood.
Such circumstances also led to the development of a rich variety of fishing and hunting cultures each with its own distinctive features.
Today indigenous group still preserve many traditional fishing and hunting lifestyles while seeking a balance between forces of change and cultural conversation.
The Drinking Culture 饮酒文化
Traditionally alcohol was only consumed by indigenous peoples to accompany ritual associated with important ceremonies of life.
This alcohol was made from millet for a specific purpose, at a specific occasion, and carried out in a specific manner, with the restriction on the age, status, standing and even gender of those partaking.
Nowadays traditional millet wine has reappeared with new packaging to become a flourishing product in the marketplace and symbolize a resurgence in Aboriginal cultures.
3F – Clothing Decoration and Culture
The Third-Floor features Taiwan indigenous textile and decoration on costumes which representing the social and cultural significance.
The Taiwanese indigenous traditional garments were woven originally from ramie cloth and tailored using oblong-shaped pieces of cloth, woven in a horizontal back strap loom and sewn to form a variety of garments without any needs of cutting.
Although their shape is simple, innumerable pattern and rich variation of colour can be created using natural dyes or coloured thread obtained through trade.
Indigenous people also make use of tree bark or the skins of animals to make clothing. The Tao (Yami) even make upper garments by weaving fish skins and rattan.
Taiwan aborigines make decorative articles from a wide variety of materials including plants, animal parts, and metals. Other than beautifying the wearer, personal ornamentation serves to indicate religious belief and social status.
With the exception of Tao (Yami) men, males and females of all indigenous ethnic group share the custom of piercing earlobes. For the Atayal and Saisiyat, this includes large hanging decoration made from shell and bamboo; while the Paiwan and Rukai commonly use flower or leaves, either formed into a ring or inserted into the cloth or the headscarves (which are thought to possess health-giving power).
While away from home, Tao men often wear silver headwear, rattan armour, chest decoration, armbands, and personal knives, all of which serve as an ornamentation as well as ritual articles to dispel evil spirits.
The Aboriginals Girl practice handling ramie and learning the traditional weaving method since the very young age.
All indigenous ethnic groups traditionally made their own ramie thread and used the botanical product to dye, as well as obtaining thread by dismantling cotton and wool clothing acquired from outside the community.
The Paiwan, for example, uses the red, yellow, blue, green and white thread on undyed or blue ramie cloth to create motifs of cultural connotation such as human heads figures and hundred pace snakes (which is considered holy symbol).
*You may also proceed to the B1 floor (which happened to be closed during our visit) which showcases ritual object related to the belief system of Taiwan indigenous people and film archive.
The admission fees for Shung Ye Museum:
Student & Aborigines
Disabled & Senior age over 65
Joint Ticket with The National Palace Museum
*Guided tours are available in Mandarin, English, and Japanese every Saturday at 2 PM. Groups tours are available by appointment in advance. An audio guide is available at the information desk.
From Taipei Metro System (MRT) to Bus :
- From MRT Red Line (RL) Shilin station (士林), walk outside the station and board Bus R30 (紅30), fare NT$15, payable by cash or Easycard.
- Bus BR20 (棕20) also travels from the museum to Brown Line 1 Dazhi station, however, Shilin is recommended for speed and convenience.
- Busses generally leave every 30 mins on weekdays until 7 PM and 15 MINS on weekends until 6:55 PM.
- Additional buses are available after hours on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Tips: To visit Shilin Night Market after the museum, take Bus R30 (紅30) back to the city, but stay on after MRT Shilin until the night market (MRT Jiantan)
Address: No. 282, Sec 2, Zhishan Road, Shilin Dist, Taipei City, Taiwan.
Open Hour: 09.00 am – 05.00 pm (Tues-Sun), closed on Monday and Chinese New Year.