Weaving on the Atayal Loom - All Fiber Arts
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.
|Weaving on the Atayal Loom
by Kathleen Forance Johnson
|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.