Crafting Origins:
Creativity and Continuity in Indigenous Taiwan

Open November, 2011 through November, 2012

This exhibit, curated by Christy DeLair (PhD candidate, Department of Anthropology), brings together a collection made by linguistic anthropologist Colonel George Shelley (Emeritus Professor of Chinese, English, and Cultural Anthropology, Norwich University) during fieldwork in the late 1960s with the Rukai tribe in Budai village in southern Taiwan, with contemporary crafts from indigenous tribes collected throughout Taiwan in 2011 by the curator on a grant from the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology.

Origin Stories are generally understood as the myths and legends we use to explain where we came from as well as outline values for our contemporary lives. The Indigenous Peoples of Taiwan, thought to be the descendants of the first Austronesian-speaking populations, tell diverse stories of creation and migration, including ancestors being born from a clay pot and siblings drifting to Taiwan in a boat. Like legends of tribal origin, the stories told about indigenous material culture tell us not just how they came into being, but also offer insight into the values and perceptions of identities past and present. The objects collected here illustrate continuity with traditional motifs and beliefs while allowing and even celebrating the creative re-crafting and re-telling of traditional stories and meanings.

Christy DeLair spoke about her work at the Museum in February, 2012.

Creative Traditions: Crafting Contemporary Indigenous Identity in Taiwan from Haffenreffer Museum of Anthro on Vimeo.


"Rukai Swing Festival, Taromak village", photo by Paul Voss


In Participation with