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National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan*
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The Intersection of History and Film
The 2nd Special Exhibition Gallery
September 14, 2011 - February 20, 2012

Men hunt, women weave: the aboriginal tribe Seediq.

During the Japanese rule of Taiwan (1895 – 1945), the Seediq were forced to lose their own culture and give up their faith.

The film Seediq Bale (literally 'a real Seediq' or 'a real man'), which depicts Taiwanese natives’ fight for dignity in the Wushe Incident in 1930, received high attention and mixed reviews and even became a political battlefield at Venice Film Festival 2011. The Hollywood reporter called it “a bit of legend and magic into history”. At home in Taiwan, it is highly praised and has stormed into local cinemas, and sold over NT$100 million in tickets in the first four days.

Taiwan’s history and culture had been created by 14 native tribes, as well as Han Chinese immigrants and recent new immigrants from neighboring countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines. The Seediq, who live primarily in Nantou County and Hualien County, were officially recognized as the 14th group on 23 April 2008. Previously, Seediq, along with the closely-related Truku people, were classified as Atayal.

Seediq Woman Weaving
In general, Seediq features very typical Austronesian traits. They worship the Utux, which means spirits of ancestors, and believe that the rainbow is the bridge that leads to where the spirits of their ancestors are. Like most Austronesian tribes they follow a set of taboos called gaya. The gaya instructs from rules of social conduct, agriculture, hunting season to war behavior and ceremonies. Gaya is like the Bibble to the Seediq back in those times. Seediq is one of two aboriginal groups (the other one is Altayal) in Taiwan that has tattoos on their face. The tattoo is both a spiritual and social practice. A male can only earn his tattoo after he cuts off his first head of the enemy. A woman can only earn her tattoo after she gained the skill of weaving. Man and woman cannot get married unless they are tattooed. Getting tattooed is the single most important event in a Seediq’s lifetime.

The Intersection of History and Film exhibition presented by the National Museum of Natural Science provides a full view of the Seediq tribe through seven documentary films, some twenty precious objects and many historical pictures, documents, and illustrations. It is divided into four sections to introduce the Seediq tribe:

971020The culture section includes important legends of the Seediq tribe such as facial tattoo, headhunting, weaving and divination. This exhibition introduces Seediq ancestral worship rites through narration and songs of Seediq members. In this section, the Museum displays pieces of Seediq clothing and ornaments from its precious collection.
Facial Tattoo

The event section gives in-depth descriptions of both the immediate and remote causes of the Wushe Incident. Most of all, the film’s artistic director Mr. Chiu Ruo-long provides many historical photographs and illustrations of the events.

"Wushe Incident" painted by Chiu Ruo-long

In the character section, almost all the main characters in the film such as Mona Rudao, Mahon Mona, Tadao Mona, Baso Mona, Dakis Nomin, Obing Nawi, Dakis Nawi, Obing Tadao, Tadao Nokan, Temu Walis, and Kojima Genji are described in details either through illustrations or films.

971020 971020
Mona Rudao                 Obing Tadao

There comes the current status of the Seediq section. What happened to the Seediq people after the Wushe Incident? The photographs taken by Mr. Wang Hsin in 1972 in Wushe will tell you the changes experienced by this tribe over time.

Come visit this special exhibition to catch up with the wave of Seediq Bale.

  • Seediq Bale” puppet show is presented 11am and 3pm on Saturdays & Sundays in front of the exhibition gallery.
  • Admission to the puppet show is free with the exhibition tickets or member cards.

The Intersection of History and Film exhibition is organized by the National Museum of Natural Science with generous support from Guo-zi Film Company, National Museum of Prehistory, Mr. Chiu Ruo-long, Mr. Deng Zu-yang, Mr. Yulan Toyuw, Mr. Dakis Bawan, and many other people.