Did You Know That …?
Apart from perpetuating Tsou tribe's ancient weaving technique that produces the indigenous community's traditional hunting bags, Yang Hsin-hsing is part of the push to preserve the Tsou people's culture of yoifo – tribal elders with healing powers. The ongoing project seeks to explore yoifo' view on human life and soul, as well as such role’s cultural context through interviewing senior spiritual practitioners who are believed to be able to communicate with nature.
Yang Hsin-hsing is a tribal craftsman. Having learned the traditional Tsou tribe's weaving technique from late tribal elder Wang Ching-jung (汪慶榮), Yang has more than 25 years of experiences producing Tsou tribe's traditional hunting bags. He knows the ancient weaving technique inside out, from ramie planting, harvesting the flowering plants, fiber extraction, producing ramie-made threads, to grid pattern design of hunting bags. He has also given related courses in tribal communities and public institutions.
Tsou tribe's woven hunting bags made of locally sourced materials are unique in design which reflects the tribe's knowledge of natural resources and awareness of the ecological environment, as well as the aesthetics and life style of the Alishan-based community.
One of Yang's ongoing efforts is to pass on the intangible cultural heritage to young generations. Yang has been giving courses regarding the use of maolan, a plant commonly used by Tsou tribe in early years to make threads for various equipment, such as backpacks, fishnets, and animal traps.
Also known as New Zealand flax, maolan could be seen at almost each household in the indigenous community. However, as hand-made gadgets have largely been replaced by products that can be manufactured at scale, the popularity of the evergreen perennial plant is now on the verge of demise, just like the seldom applied traditional weaving techniques. Over the years, such the tribal heritage has grown into a calling that Yang could not ignore.
In recognition to his long-year effort in breathing life to the intangible cultural heritage, Yang was one of the first individuals who were bestowed the title of "preserver of indigenous traditional craftsmanship" by Chiayi County in 2018, while Tsou tribe's ancient weaving technique for traditional hunting bags was designated as one of the county’s traditional craftsmanship.
The leather tanning technique and the process of making leather products is another traditional craftsmanship reflecting Tsou tribe’s hunting culture. For the tribe in central Taiwan, each animal fur has its own different purpose depending on the ultimate application in mind. Various types of animal leather are used to make men's clothing, footwear, hats, bags, and bedding with tribal features.