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Paiwan Bronze Knife

Tags: aborigine | knife | Paiwan

Bronze knives are referred to as “tikuzan ni tagarus” in the Paiwan language, and are considered one of the three cultural treasures of the tribe. The remaining two are ancient pottery vessels and glass beads. These cultural treasures were family heirlooms of the upper classes. In addition, they played important roles in wedding ceremonies and as payment of compensation. With only a fixed number of these items produced and with changes in society, they have now become treasured objects. Recently, there have been breakthroughs in understanding how to make traditional pottery vessels and glass beads, and these are now being produced in large quantities. However, the production techniques for bronze knives remain unclear. 

There are both large and small bronze knives. This is an example of a large knife, which is referred to as “the walking stick of the god of the universe” by the Paiwan. Large knives measure about 30 to 45 cm in length and are usually stored in the ceremonial hut of the village. Small knives are only about 15 cm long, and are one of the tools used by shamans during divination. This knife measures 58 cm in length. The blade is 12 cm wide, reaching 13 cm at its widest point. The knife handle features a depiction of a chieftain with both arms raised. There are 7 cm wave patterns and 10 smaller human figures. The blade shows signs of rust.


Department of Graphic Communications and Digital Publishing, Shih Hsin University Digital archiving project of the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines