Chinese Name: 羅美玉
Year of Birth: 1955
Place of Birth: Taitung County (Eastern Taiwan)
Did You Know?
Luo Mei-yu, a skilled embroidery artist of the Rukai tribe, is a devout Christian whose works reflect the traditional cultural essence of her tribe. As an important preserver of the embroidery culture of the Rukai people, one of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples, her pieces also cleverly integrate Christian beliefs, showcasing the cultural and social life of the village of Tarumak today.
Luo Mei-yu was born in the village of Tarumak in Beinan Township, Taitung County, which is the only Rukai settlement located east of the Central Mountain Range. Tarumak means “our home” in the Rukai language, as well as "land of the warriors." Growing up, Luo was exposed to embroidery culture through her family. When she was in her teens, she learned the basics of stitching at a social welfare organization called The Mustard Seed Mission in Hualien. Later, she went to a clothing company in metropolitan western Taiwan to refine her skills in cutting and making dresses. In the late 1980s, after many years away from her hometown, Luo returned to her village and became a teacher of traditional indigenous clothing after being trained by the Beinan Township Office in 1987. In 1989, she established her own workshop called Meiyu Clothing Studio in the village, aiming to promote traditional crafts and improve the village's financial fortunes.
In the 1990s, there was a rise in awareness of indigenous Taiwanese culture, and the government implemented policies to improve the economic development of indigenous communities. One person who played a significant role in this movement was Luo Mei-yu. She frequently collaborated with local government and taught students how to make traditional clothing and embroidery in her studio. Her talent was evident, and her embroidery skills received numerous awards. Additionally, she represented Taitung County in exchanges with other regions and participated in ethnic arts and crafts festivals. Her reputation spread far and wide, and her studio attracted visitors from all over.
When it comes to the Rukai embroidery tradition, Luo Mei-yu says, "Preservation means not forgetting the wisdom and existence of our ancestors." In addition to preserving the tradition, Luo Mei-yu is also concerned with how to innovate within it. She understands that the lifestyle of the Rukai people has already changed in the face of changing times, and so she flexibly combines traditional embroidery patterns with contemporary clothing styles, using traditional techniques to embroider new patterns, making them into daily items such as tote bags, fashion accessories, and carrying pouches, greatly increasing the practicality and popularity of traditional embroidery. Luo is committed to deepening the connection between embroidery culture and contemporary life, and finding a way for the endangered craft to survive.
Promoting and creating handicrafts has supported Luo Mei-yu's family financially and given her the confidence to continue creating. In 2003, her work "A Couple (一對情侶)" was selected for the craft category in the 57th Taiwan Provincial Exhibition of Fine Arts, a highly influential government-run art exhibition that has since been discontinued. This achievement inspired her to shift her focus towards artistic creation.
In 2004, she created a piece of art titled "Love in the Ghost Lake (鬼湖之戀)" based on an ancient Rukai legend. The story is about a chief’s daughter, Balhenge, falling in love with the hundred-pace viper ruler of Taidrengere Lake, which is considered a sacred lake by the Rukai people. This work won the National Craft Award and showcases the significance of indigenous history and culture. It is a perfect example of how her work combines the beauty of craftsmanship with a contemporary touch.
As a devout Christian, Luo Mei-yu prays every day, hoping that her home will be an altar dedicated to God. Using Rukai patterns as a foundation, she has carefully embroidered her family name, "Aruratgn," as well as the names of her siblings and herself, on the house. As new family members have been added, this family altar has continued to expand. In her view, her creative inspiration has almost always been found through divine revelation. She often mulls her life experiences (including dreams), transforming them into works of art, such as "Taiwan Renaissance," which presents a scene she has seen in her dreams: Taiwan bathed in the light of Christ.
In 2019, the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Taitung County registered Luo Mei-yu as a Preserver of Traditional Embroidery of the Rukai People (Tarumak Village), in accordance with the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act. The following year, she was selected for the 6th Taiwan Crafts Workshop. Luo Mei-yu's embroidery is faithful to tradition, while incorporating her own creativity to express the historical significance of intergenerational transmission of the art. She continues to pass down the embroidery craft of her village, as she sees it as her mission to do so.
(Photo courtesy of National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute)
Digital Infrastructure & Governance
Mongolian & Tibetan Cultural Center