The Genre Paintings of Taiwan’s Aboriginal Peoples: Welcoming the Bride
The Genre Paintings of Taiwan’s Aboriginal Peoples: Welcoming the Bride
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The Genre Paintings of Taiwan's Aboriginal Peoples: Welcoming the Bride

Name: The Genre Paintings of Taiwan’s Aboriginal Peoples: Welcoming the Bride 
Register No.: 85361 
Date: A.D. 1736 – 1795 
Size: Height 40.5, width 29.5 cm 
Inscriptions: With the words of commemoration: Welcoming the bride – in the Tribes Banshian, Dawu, Shilo and Donlo of Chuanghua Prefecture, the performance of a wedding is called “ leading by the hand.” 

The Genre Paintings of Taiwan's Aboriginal People was an illustrated album donated by the Italian Scholar Ros to the Institute in 1935. (Ros was originally a guest researcher of the ethnology section at the Institute of Social Science; but upon the reformation of the institute, joined the Institute of History and Philology.) The album contains eighteen illustrations, including seventeen depicting the customs of Taiwan's aborigines, and one map of the area between Kelung and Changhua. According to Tu Cheng-sheng, this album was drawn under the commission of the Imperial delegate to Taiwan, Liu-shih-ch'i, in the period of 1744 to 1747.

“Welcoming the Bride” was the thirteenth illustration in the album. The theme of this illustration is the process of a wedding of the plains aborigines. Though named “Welcoming the Bride,” the people in this illustration are actually welcoming the groom. While there are differences in family structure between Northern and Southern Taiwanese aborigines, the society is generally matriarchical. In this illustration the newlyweds sit on a palanquin held up by four people, the bride sits at the front and the groom at the rear; the bride wears a circlet made of feathers and a short blouse showing her navel. There is a band banging gongs and weaving flags. The whole parade welcomes the groom with a lively air of excitement.
The relationship between husband and wife in plains aboriginal society is very different from that of the Han people. Based on the records left by the Dutch missionary Candidius, if the husband wished to enter the room of his wife, he would have to inform his wife in advance and wait outside if there were any other females inside the room. Females were allowed to have children only after they passed the age of thirty-six. Moreover, according to Research on the Genre Paintings of Taiwan’s Aboriginal Peoples, females were responsible for the more labor-intensive work in the farm; males only sent food and drinks to women there. Nevertheless, in other illustrations of the album, men are depicted guarding the village and hunting or fishing for their people.

In addition to the social relations, the illustrations of “Welcoming the Bride” also provide information on the architecture and clothing of aboriginals. There are two typical ways the indigenous people built their houses: one was to establish the house on top of a pounded-earth base, which would be covered by stones; the other was to build the house on poles raised above the ground. These two techniques were used to cope with the high temperature and humidity in Taiwan, and to avoid bugs or mosquitoes. The main structure of the house would be built with bamboo for walls and thatche for the roof. In front of the corridor there are stairs for climbing up and down.

There are various interpretations of the clothing of the indigenous people. It seems that nudity was common in the early period; but as they were more deeply Sinicized, they increasingly wore clothing. In this illustration, No one is completely naked; most people are fully dressed and only a few expose their upper bodies.

The illustration shows how to distinguish among plains aborigines and the Han people: plains aborigines do not have beards; they have their ears pierced and wear large earrings; their hair is combed into two buns or worn loose and cut to the length to their shoulders. 

The naming of this illustration reflects the contradictory tendencies in Liu-shih-ch’i. On the one hand, he knew the indigenous people in the illustration were welcoming the groom; but on the other hand, his learning from the Han society and constraints of ideology forced him to construe the activity as welcoming the bride. The wedding seemed eccentric in the eye of the Han, and so Liu-shih-ch’i could not distance himself from the moves of the society he came from. 
(by Chen Yan-zhi)


1. 杜正勝編撰,《景印解說番社采風圖》(珍藏史料暨典籍系列之一)南港:中央研究院歷史語言研究所,1998年。 
2. 六十七,《番社采風圖考》(台灣文獻叢刊第30種),臺灣銀行經濟研究室編印。