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Weaving on the Atayal Loom

Kathleen Forance Johnson had the wonderful opportunity to live in Taiwan and experience some of the weaving culture of this country. She submitted this article, to share with us some of her experiences.
Thank you Kathleen.

Päivi

Weaving on the Atayal Loom

by Kathleen Forance Johnson

Part 1,
Part 2,
Part 3

Traditional Textile Techniques from Native Peoples of Taiwan
A native woman at the demonstration at the Textile Museum November
20, 1999

Atayal Diamond Pattern Cloth
Collection, Sung ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines, Taipei, Taiwan

A scant one hundred miles across the Taiwan Straits in the Pacific
Ocean, off the coast of Mainland China, lies the lime island of Taiwan.
Today it is best known as one of the biggest producers of high-tech components
and home of a vibrant democracy and booming free-market economy. Most of
the citizens of Taiwan came across from Fujien Province, Mainland China,
starting from about three hundred years ago. Others came with General Chiang
Kai-shek and his Kuo Min Dang Nationalist army only fifty years. The earliest
immigrants found the island already sparsely inhabited by native peoples
whose physical features, language and culture was entirely different from
those of the Chinese and more related to groups which peopled the Pacific
islands as far away as New Zealand.

The “nine tribes” of Taiwan’s “Yuinzumin” (native peoples) now
comprise less than two percent of the population of the island of Taiwan.
Some of these groups have been able to preserve part of their culture while
others have been assimilated entirely into the Chinese populace.

A very few continue to practice their traditional skills including hand weaving
traditional textiles using a type of weaving technology which may go back
thousands of years.The Atayal is one such group and it is their Pacific style body tension loom that we are demonstrating today.

1, 2, 3

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This page last edited on July 2, 2013

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All Fiber Arts by Paivi Suomi is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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