Saturday, August 09, 2014

Wulai Atayal Museum along Wulai Old Street (烏来泰雅民族博物館) @ Taipei [Taiwan]

It's hard to miss the above building while strolling along Wulai Old Street; not with that humongous stone portrait hanging so high up! 

Although ranked 3rd in population among the 16 recognised aboriginal tribes in Taiwan, Atayal people are the most widely distributed; covering 2/3 of the mountainous area in Taiwan. 

A visit to this three-level cultural museum is strongly recommended for three reasons; it's free for all, content was really informative and lastly, the volunteers (believe all of them hailed from the Atayal tribe) were superbly approachable! 

Given the spread of the tribe, there were significant differences in some aspects of their life; for example, houses in the mountainous areas were constructed with a hollow pit (around 1.6 meter deep).

Sporting facial tattoos is a common feature especially with the older generation. According to the tradition, those without facial tattoo would be rejected by their ancestors when they die and travel to the netherworld. 

Reading about the "afterlife" of the Atayal tribe got me excited! Head hunting was a common practice in the past and it was believed that the victims (humans or animals alike) would follow the perpetrator until his/her demise. The ancestors in the spirit world would be very very happy if a tribesman brought with him a lot of fellows when he died. 

Head hunting doesn't equate to cannibalism by the way. The custom of head hunting is contentious in the current modern age we lived in and it was unnerving to read on its justification and to draw irrelevant references to the wars between countries. 

Let's continue to a lighter topic; attire! 

Like the houses, there are geographical differences depending on the environment and interaction with other tribes and cultures. The traditional material used was ramie and to make it into the final fabric product required a seven step procedure! 

A model of the traditional Atayal dwelling. 

These are earrings?!!?!?!?! Forgive me, i honestly thought they were sticks for the drums! 

Photographs of a male and female from the Atayal at the start of the tumultuous 20th century. Do you know a lot of Taiwanese celebrities are actually aborigines? For the Atayal tribe, you have Vic Chou (F4), Landy Wen  and Vivian Hsu, just to name a few. 


Along Wulai Old Street,
New Taipei City, Taiwan

Admission Fee
Nope, free entry for all! 

For an overview of my 9 Days, 8 Nights Taiwan Trip [Cingjing (清境) - Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) - Taichung (臺中) - Taipei (臺 北)], click HERE.

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