Artworks and Artifacts of Hemp
Conservatory, Botanical Garden
June 29 – August 31, 2016
Hemp – Food of the Gods; Spring of Life
Hemp is a part of the cannabis plant, and it is very useful. Hemp fiber, which is a bast fiber, has been used extensively throughout history. The origin of hemp is thought to be in Central Asia. Ancient and modern historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, and philologists all agree that hemp is one of mankind’s oldest cultivated crops.
Remains of hemp fibers and seeds recovered from archeological sites reveal that the ancient Chinese domesticated hemp from a wild plant into a cultivated crop approximately 8000 B.C. According to “Columbia History of the World” Harper & Row, 1981, the weaving of hemp fiber as an industry began 10,000 years ago, at approximately the same time as pottery. As for Taiwan, archeological records show that hemp, or cannabis sativa, was first utilized and domesticated 10,000 – 4,000 B.C.
The National Museum of Natural Science presents “Artworks and Artifacts of Hemp” exhibition from June 29 through August 31, 2016 at its Botanical Garden. The exhibition is drawn from the holdings of Mr. Sun Ye-chi, a master weaver of natural fiber in Taichung, Taiwan. On display are more than one hundred extraordinary artworks and artifacts from Sun’s collection, including traditional costumes and daily utensils of Austronesian and Taiwanese aborigines. By presenting artworks and artifacts for aesthetic attention, the exhibition also questions the common assumption that the aesthetic qualities of artworks and artifacts are irrelevant to the writing of history.
The exhibition is divided into pseudo stem fibers, leaf fibers, and bast fibers areas, meaning people obtain fibers from the three main different parts of plants. Aside from precious and exquisite artworks and artifacts of hemp, the exhibition also features the technological process involved in creating hemp artworks and artifacts from removing fibers from plants by soaking and beating, dyeing and combing fibers for spinning, to forming textiles by weaving, knitting, crocheting, knotting, or felting. Also, the exhibition highlights many featured works such as a Salomon men’s traditional skirt made of banana pseudo stem, a puppet of owl made of banana silk yarn by Taiwanese aboriginal Kavalan tribe, a tiger mask from Haiti Voodoo, and masks made of Musa textilis.
Wearing a Salomon men’s traditional garment, the Museum Director Sun Wei-hsin said at the exhibition opening reception, “The exhibition is interesting and instructive. It is worth seeing, not only if you are interested in traditional use of cannabis, but also in history and social questions surrounding the use of the hemp plant.”
“The exhibition itself attempts to put an accent on civilized use of hemp, its history and tradition in arts,” noted Sun Ye-chi.
Come visit the “Artworks and Artifacts of Hemp” exhibition. The Museum also offers a variety of discovery-based programs for you to explore in this summer.
Artworks and Artifacts of Hemp exhibition is organized and presented by the National Museum of Natural Science.