I only became aware of Taiwan’s aboriginal people in Thermal Valley when I entered the Ketagalan Cultural Centre. It documented the Ketagalan people’s decline after the Han Chinese came to the island in the 17thcentury, but there was little in the way of traditional artifacts, so I was eager to visit Shilin’s museum.
There was a large number of aboriginal groups who came to the island over 4000 years ago and lived by farming, fishing and hunting in the highlands as well as the coast. Those who lived on the coast constructed their houses with bamboo and thatched roofs while the highlanders used slate.
Most groups tattooed their bodies and pierced their ear lobes. I was surprised at the size of a pair of earrings on display that must have reached the wearer’s waist when worn. And while there were tools, musical instruments, pottery and weapons on display, I was most impressed by the weaving and beautiful clothes worn by different groups.
I waited for the 3-D movie that was shown hourly, but discovered it was in Taiwanese Cantonese with no subtitles.