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National Taiwan Museum Sends More Than 100 Rukai Relics for Exhibit in their Home

  • Date:2021-11-26
National Taiwan Museum Sends More Than 100 Rukai Relics for Exhibit in their Home

Until April 23, 2022, the National Taiwan Museum will be holding an exhibition entitled "Lawbubulu—Wutai Relics' Centennial Trip Home" at the Rukai Relics Museum at Wutai Township, Pingtung. The exhibition has been in the works for four years, and a total of 110 Rukai relics will be displayed, including 64 from the NTM collection, 32 items from the Rukai Relics Museum, and 14 items borrowed by the tribe. This is the largest exhibition of Rukai relics in recent years, and the first special exhibition of cultural relics returning home focused on Rukai tradition.

According to the description from the Rukai Relics Museum, the items on display include weapons and costumes used by hunters, male and female accessories, traditional weaving devices, and ritual vessels, among others. Of these, the most iconic is the ancient pottery decorated with glazed beads and ringed bell patterns. The items collected by the tribe come from local villages, including Shenshan, Wutai, and Ali, and also include modified percussion rifles, men's shawls, and women's carrying bags, capturing different levels of Rukai material culture from various angles, all reflecting particular regional characteristics.

In a speech made on behalf of Minister Lee Yung-te, Deputy Minister of Culture Hsiao Tsung-huang noted that lawbubulu is Rukai for hand-made objects with practical everyday functions or social significance, a concept closely tied to the traditional daily life of the Rukai people and their practice of celebrations and rituals. A hundred years ago, under Japanese colonial rule, cultural relics from many ethnic groups and tribes were incorporated into the colonial museum for display and collection. A century later, the National Taiwan Museum has cooperated with 29 indigenous cultural museums with the assistance of the Council of Indigenous Peoples and the Indigenous Peoples Cultural Development Center to send relics home for special exhibitions. In the process, they have worked with tribal elders, with the elders visiting the NTM collection warehouse to inspect the relics and holding meetings over the selection of items, along with oral interviews and field surveys. Both sides have cooperated to figure out how the exhibition should interpret the culture and how the exhibition facilities could be improved and upgraded. This cooperation marks the start of another century-long journey, this one seeking out the roots of the indigenous cultural relics of the National Taiwan Museum's collection and the gradual implementation of long-awaited transitional justice for Taiwan's indigenous peoples.