HEART ON OCEAN-Taiwan Materials Exhibition 

Taiwan, Formosa, is the beautiful island born out of the Pacific Ocean. The Austronesians,, the earliest came to this island, sustained the hardship of exploring the unknown territories and learned from the Nature how to survive and prosper. Though no written language, the varying landscapes of culture and lives developed by the First People were recorded in objects and artifacts. Over thousands of years; the island embraced countless sea travelers. Some of them just passed by and others chose to stay. People of different origins, languages, cultures and lifestyles came across and learn from each other. The dynamic interaction changed each other's in material remnants and cultural heritages. For this exhibition, we meticulously selected “Boundaries Dividing Han Chinese and Aborigines,” “The Genre Paintings of Taiwan's Aboriginal Peoples” and Taiwanese aboriginal relics from our collection. The Heart of the Ocean invites you to take a time travel across the ancient and the contemporary, the foreign and the native, and refresh your imagination with long forgotten stories.

1. HEART ON ART-Artifacts of Taiwan Indigenous Peoples

Linguistically, the original inhabitants of Taiwan are classified as Austronesian. Taiwan was the northernmost extent where Austronesian speaking groups were distributed. The languages, ancient history and origins of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples have long attracted the interest of linguists and archaeologists. Some scholars have suggested that Taiwan was the starting point for the expansion of the Austronesian peoples to other parts of the world.

In the past, the colonial and other dominant powers in Taiwan referred to the indigenous peoples by various derogatory terms. In the Ching dynasty, Han Chinese grouped them into Sheng Fan (literally “raw barbarians,”) and Shou Fan (literally “cooked barbarians”), or Plains Fan and Mountain Fan, depending on their perceived level of civilization. During the early stages of the Japanese occupation (1895-1945), the Japanese still divided the indigenous peoples into Sheng Fan and Shou Fan. Later they were called either Ping–Pu Fan (plains indigenous groups) or Takasago (“Groups of the high mountains” in Japanese). After 1945, the government officially designated them as “mountain compatriots”. Henceforth, the term “Ping–Pu Tsu” (plains indigenous groups) only appeared in academic research or in the memories of the elders. Since 1994, they generally have been referred to as “indigenous peoples.” Nowadays there is an indigenous population of approximately 480,000 people.(by July 2007)

The classification for the identification of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples have been an interesting topics of research all the time. For example, they are divided into “mountain indigenous groups,” (such as the Atayal and the Bunun), and “plains indigenous groups” (such as the Kavalan and the Siraya). Among the different groups, much diversity exists at  aspects of social organization, kinship structure, ceremonial practice, and customs. This diversity makes Taiwan an appealing subject  for anthropological research.

The objects exhibited here, including domestic implements, clothing, ornaments, and weapons were collected by Lin Hui-hsiang in 1929.

2. CULTURE SHOCK-The Genre Paintings of Taiwan’s Aboriginal People

The Italian diplomat and scholar, Ros, donated the album The Genre Paintings of Taiwan's Aboriginal Peoples (Fan-she ts'ai-feng t'u), originally entitled An Illustrated Account of Taiwan's Aboriginal Peoples (T'ai fan t'u shuo), to the Institute of History and Philology in February of 1935.
There are more than ten varieties of this type of painting. According to Tu Cheng-sheng's research, the eighteen leaves (including a map) of paintings held by the Institute come from one of three extant albums which are similar in style. These three albums were most likely completed at the request of Supervising Censor Liu-shih-ch'i (fl.1744-1747). Painted with extraordinary care and precision, they represent a collection of exceptional historical value. They also provide tantalizing glimpses into the social and cultural life of Taiwan's plains aborigines during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

3. SHIFTING BOUNDARIES- Boundaries Dividing Han Chinese and Aborigines

To protect the lands of the aborigines from the invasion of the Han Chinese, and to prevent collusion between the two, the Ch'ing government prohibited the Han Chinese from entering the lands of the aborigines. The officials built earthworks as physical barriers, and defined the boundaries on maps with red lines. However, the official boundaries could not effectively stop the Han Chinese from cultivating the lands of the aborigines. The Ch'ing government needed to repeatedly re-define the borders. The Chief Commander of Min-che, Yang T'ing-chang, requested this map to define the boundaries between the Han Chinese and the aborigines. In this map, the red lines indicate the old boundaries, and the blue lines indicate the new ones.