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National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan*
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The Connection between the Past and Present
The 3rd Special Exhibition Gallery
July 8 - December 4, 2011

An-ping Pot for Worship
in the Ming Dynasty

Siraya Women's Head Ornament
During the early 20th century, Japanese linguists observed a group of people residing along the hillside in Tainan and Kaohsiung areas, whose language, dressing, dwelling, and funeral rites were similar to those of the Han Chinese. Yet, they looked very different from the Han people with their dark skin and profound eyes. There were also some differences in their worshiping their ancestors. These people called themselves as the Siraya, Taivoan or Makatao. Due to the similarity in their language and culture, they are considered as one group --- Siraya.

Siraya once settled in the southwest part of Taiwan and corresponding sections of the east coast. Like the 14 officially recognized indigenous peoples of Taiwan, they are ethnically and linguistically Austronesian. However, the Qing dynasty government referred to them as Pingpu Aborigines. And, due to their long-term interactions with the Han Chinese and perceived high level of assimilation, they have not been a recognized indigenous group till now. Yet, they have been working to preserve their cultural characteristics and striving for their official recognition.

Based on archaeological evidence, historical documents and contemporary cultural revival and official recognition efforts, "Siraya: The Connection between the Past and Present" makes people understand this ethnic group through their material and spiritual cultures from prehistoric till present times. In "Siraya: The Connection between the Past and Present" exhibition, the connection between the Siraya tribe and the prehistoric Niaosung Culture is explored through pottery and beads. And, all physical anthropology research results, historical descriptions and paintings of Siraya communities back to the Dutch period in the 17th century, a traditional worship place reconstruction, traditional clothing and other cultural objects and specimens allow visitors to understand more about the Siraya culture and its changes over time. If it is not enough, the exhibition also presents vivid animated films and illustrations to impress visitors on this neglected indigenous culture.

"The Siraya people keep their historical document and inherit their ethnic belief as well, that makes them to be believed that they always exist," said Dr. Chen Shu-zhuo, one of the organizer of the exhibition, "All the past exhibitions about Pingpu tribe emphasized on their historical relics, lacking of the connection of their past and present times," continued Chen, "In fact, the Siraya people appear the common origin with the Taiwan's other 14 indigenous tribes based on genetic and linguistic studies. Why should they be neglected for such a long time?"

Should Siraya be recognized as a distinct ethnic group? Come visit Siraya: The Connection between the Past and Present, you'll make it clearer in your mind.

Siraya: The Connection between the Past and Present is organized by the National Museum of Natural Science in cooperation with National Taiwan Museum, National Museum of Prehistory, National Museum of History, Academia Sinica,Institute of Ethnology, Tainan City Government, Committee of Ethnic Affairs, Tainan Siraya Development Committee, Association for the Reconstruction of Siaolin's Plains Aborigine Culture, and Siraya National Scenic Area.