The Ministry of Culture has designated two traditional Aboriginal weaving techniques as intangible cultural heritage and is to draft plans for their preservation.
The two techniques — gaya tminun of the Seediq and ni tenunan tu benina of the Kavalan — are to be protected under the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法), the ministry said in a statement on Monday.
According to Article 92 of the act, the government must draft plans to preserve designated intangible cultural heritage and document, and teach or take measures to preserve and conserve cultural heritage that is on the verge of disappearing.
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Culture via CNA
It was the first time the traditional craftsmanship of the Seediq and Kavalan — two of Taiwan’s 16 officially recognized Aboriginal communities — has been designated as cultural heritage.
The ministry praised gaya tminun as the embodiment of the Seediq’s weaving culture.
“Fabrics represent the crystallization of culture shared by Seediq women over the past several hundred and even 1,000 years,” the ministry said.
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Culture via CNA
The ministry also named Chang Feng-ying of the Seediq as the keeper of gaya tminun, and Yen Yu-ying (嚴玉英) the keeper of ni tenunan tu benina.
Chang inherited the weaving technique from her mother and grandmother, and she mastered the most challenging technique, called puniri, that is used to create formal dresses, it said.
Chang is recognized by her community as the most talented and skillful weaver, and she has devoted herself to passing on weaving techniques to others so that the skills and knowledge of puniri can spread, the ministry said.
The ministry described ni tenunan tu benina, which uses banana leaves and mainly consists of a plain weave, as representative of the craftsmanship of the Kavalan.
The technique is “an important cultural feature of a tribal renaissance movement,” and plays a significant role in creating cohesion within Aboriginal groups and in promoting their identity, it said.
The ministry praised Yen as the weaver who is most familiar with all the necessary skills and tools used for weaving with banana leaves, as well as the traditional ritual, called paspaw, performed to pray for blessings from ancestors’ spirits to allow the weaving to proceed without problems.
Yen’s craftsmanship “offers a ray of hope for the preservation of her tribe’s nearly extinct weaving knowledge and culture,” the ministry said.
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