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Gunpowder containers (火藥筒)

As their name suggests, gunpowder containers were used to store gunpowder. Rifles were obtained from Han Chinese through trade. Thus, the gunpowder containers used by the Paiwan tribe mostly resembled those used by the Han Chinese during the Qing dynasty. Such containers were usually made from animal horn or wood. Bamboo was a less popular material as it was not as moisture-proof.
Shapes and materials
The traditional gunpowder containers of the Paiwan tribe, similar to those produced by other tribes, were mostly made from animal horn, animal bone or wood. They resembled the conical, curved horn-shaped gunpowder containers used by the Han Chinese. The container could stand on its flat edge and was fitted with a lid at the upper tip to prevent spillage and to keep out moisture. The body was decorated with rhombuses or snake patterns and covered in lacquer. Along the midsection, loops were made for attaching a rope. Bamboo gunpowder containers were made up of two parts, an upper part and a lower part. Each part had holes for attaching a rope to bind the two parts together. Sometimes a woven rattan rope was added for ease of carrying.

Production methods

The animal horn or wood block was first hollowed out and a wooden cork was placed at the base. Loops were made for attaching a rope along with a tight fitting lid. The exterior was decorated with carved patterns or inlaid shell and covered in lacquer. For bamboo gunpowder containers, appropriate sized bamboo was obtained. In general, bamboo sections more than 10 centimeters in length and 3 to 5 centimeters in diameter were selected. The bamboo was pared to create the top and bottom portions of the lidded container. Along the top edge of the lid and bottom edge of the body, ramie rope was added to bind the two parts of the container together. Sometimes a woven rattan rope was also attached for ease of carrying.

* Gunpowder container lid

Uses and functions
Gunpowder containers were used to store and transport gunpowder and to keep the gunpowder away from external sources of heat and moisture.

Animal bone and wooden gunpowder containers were both esthetically pleasing and practical. Both of these materials were moisture-proof. The shape of the containers produced from them made for convenient loading of rifles. Bamboo gunpowder containers were easier to make but were less practical because they were not very moisture-proof and were not shaped well for the convenient loading of a firearm.



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