Fri, Nov 09, 2001 - Page 8 News List

Saisiyat exhibition opens

By David Frazier  /  STAFF REPORTER

Tomorrow, the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines (順益台灣原住民博物

館) will open the doors on the first-ever exhibition capturing the

traditions and ceremonies of the rapidly disappearing Saisiyat (賽夏族)

tribe. The Saisiyat are one of Taiwan's nine Aboriginal tribes, and are

endemic to northern Taiwan, particularly the mountainous regions of

Hsinchu and Miaoli counties. At present, there are only about 6,000

Saisiyat remaining in Taiwan.

The exhibition will include more than 80 artifacts and ceremonial

objects from early Saisiyat life, including ceremonial headdresses,

knots used to ward off evil spirits, bells worn as part of costumes and

other articles of dress and religion. These display objects will be used

to address the central theme of the exhibition, namely the tribe's rites

and ceremonies. Chief among these is the Pas-ta Ai (矮人祭), which is

celebrated twice a year, at planting time and on the first full moon

after the harvest. There will also be relics of the snake's tail

ceremony, a ritual of supplication to the snake spirit, Sorou, generally

invoked during times of extended summer rains or in order to cure

illness. The ritual draws its supernatural effects from the ash of

snakes' bones.

The Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines is located in Shihlin at 282

Chihshan Rd., Sec. 2 (士林區至善路二段282號). The exhibition runs

through Jan. 19

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