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Silver helmet of Tao Tribe at Lanyu

The Tao indigenous tribe is also called the Yami, which is dispersed in Lanyu, Taitung. In addition to having exquisite and elegant tatala craftsmanship, it was also the only indigenous tribe in Taiwan with metallurgical technology, with silver helmets being the most iconic product. According to research, the raw materials for producing these came from the silver coins obtained from sunken merchant ships or silver dollars obtained through trading. In 1897, Torii Ryuzo wrote the following in his investigative report: “When the boats pull in to shore, the indigenes on the island rush closer in their canoes, with each one shouting "Peark, peark!" (silver). Why are they so fascinated by silver coins? What do they do with the silver coins? I discovered that when the indigenes get hold of silver coins, they put them in earthen pots to heat up and beat them into thin sheets using a stone in order to make helmets for men and headdresses, necklaces or arm ornaments for women.” The item features 14 pieces of silver, with each piece processed, pierced, and then connected by a copper thread to form a silver helmet. The silver pieces are pounded into 5cm wide oval sheets before they are wrapped around a wood mold from bottom to top. The pieces of silver are then connected by copper threads to maintain the conical shape of the helmet. The interior of the top of the helmet has an 11cm long twine for hanging purposes, and there are two eye holes as the front .
  • Silver helmet of Tao Tribe at Lanyu
  • Silver helmet of Tao Tribe at Lanyu
  • Silver helmet of Tao Tribe at Lanyu
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