Wed, Jun 10, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Artist tells stories with coffee cup paintings


A Paiwan Aborigine artist from Pingtung County is telling the story of his people through paintings on coffee cups to encourage a better understanding of his tribe’s culture.

Fifty-year-old Ljegeay Mavalin said in an interview with the Central News Agency on Monday he hoped that when people drink from his cups, they will discuss the stories told on them with others.

“In this way the stories will be passed on,” he said, adding he had given a lot of thought about the best means to keep Paiwan culture alive in the modern world through his art.

Asked what inspired him to use coffee cups as his canvas, Ljegeay said coffee is a big market globally, which gives his work a large audience.

The stories feature the traditional trappings of Paiwan life such as tribal ceramic pots, glass beads and the Formosan sambar deer.

Images of the Formosa ­sambar have become more frequent in his recent work, as one of his objectives is to raise consciousness about environmental protection, he said.

In the past, the animal was easily spotted in mountains all over Taiwan. Today, however, the species is only seen — and rarely — at high altitude, after being displaced by human activity, Ljegeay said.

His work was selected by the Pingtung County Government as one of this year’s best souvenirs.

Marketing the product along with coffee grown by his tribe in the Pingtung mountains, Ljegeay said he not only wants to sell Paiwan culture, but also to promote tribal industry.

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