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Hunting rifle (火槍)

Hunting rifles began to be obtained through trade with Han Chinese during the Qing dynasty. They were used for hunting and warfare. During the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, many rifles were confiscated in an attempt to prevent resistance by the indigenous peoples. Rifles could only be used for hunting in areas designated by the Japanese police. However, the indigenous people were able to produce their own rifles and ammunition.

After resistance efforts against the Japanese and headhunting activities had subsided, rifles were only used for hunting game in the mountains. However, the possession and use of rifles continue to be restricted to this day. Homemade firearms can only be used in the setting of traps when hunting game.

The rifles that originally entered Taiwan were produced by a factory in Shanghai. They were also obtained through trade, from the earliest smoothbore guns to Mauser bolt-action rifles. Rifles are divided into several components. The two main parts are the barrel and chamber. Gunpowder is ignited by the impact of the hammer. Before this can happen, gunpowder has to be loaded into the chamber, followed by a projectile such as a bullet. The hammer is made from layers of metal with a protrusion at the top. The flexibility created by this layered design allows the pressure needed to fire the gun to be reduced when the hammer is pulled back, akin to striking a match. The rifles produced by indigenous people were rod-shaped. The butt and barrel were shorter than those of most rifles and the mechanism was relatively simple. Most were front loading guns and homemade gunpowder was used.

Production techniques
In addition to obtaining rifles through trade, the indigenous people were able to produce simple rifles on their own. The rifle barrels were made from metal and the chamber was made from wood. Gunpowder could be obtained from matches. However, the rifle mechanism and rifle barrel raw material or semi-finished rifle barrel still had to be obtained through trade.

Methods of use

The rifle is a modern weapon that was adopted by Taiwan’s indigenous peoples fairly recently. The igniting of gunpowder results in a large explosive force that propels a bullet out from the rifle. The rifle was mainly used for hunting and warfare. During the Qing dynasty and the beginning of the Japanese occupation era, indigenous tribes were able to easily obtain firearms through trade. However, with the implementation of restrictive policies by the Japanese during their occupation of Taiwan, rifles could only be used in hunting areas that were monitored by the police or in areas deep in the mountains unknown to outsiders.

In the use of a rifle to set a trap, hunters first find an area where there is evidence of a game animal present. Based on the evidence, they determine the size of the animal and the best place to set up their rifle, as well as the angle of the barrel. They then load the gun and prepare a woven rattan trip cord. The trip cord is connected to a small wooden stick. The stick is placed between the hammer and chamber. When the trip cord is pulled, the wooden stick falls and the hammer is pulled back, causing the rifle to fire. As soon as the shot is heard, the hunter hurries to check if the animal has been hit. The rifle is positioned in a concealed place to prevent injury to persons passing by. In addition, a knot of grass is placed nearby as a warning. As gunpowder becomes ineffective when wet the rifle is positioned in an area free of moisture. Once about every seven days the hunter checks the condition of the gunpowder and replaces it if necessary.

Today, traditional firearms are rarely used as the old-style front-loading guns are unsafe, and can easily cause injury. Women are not allowed to touch or stride over a gun. This taboo does not apply to young children. This is because girls are not considered women. A female had to complete coming-of-age rites to attain adult status.



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