Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1867 Baiwan chief 
Culture: Baiwan / Koalut Gaoshan
Setting: tribal conflict, Taiwanese highlands early-mid 1800s

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes) 

* Bates 1869 online
"[T]he interior and east coast [of Taiwan] are still in the possession of numerous distinct tribes of aborigines, who live in a state of chronic war amongst themselves and with all mankind, and this state of things is rather encouraged than otherwise by the Chinese, in order to keep the Europeans out.
    "[The natives] are ready to join in a murderous onslaught on any boat that dares approach their shores.  Of late years such attacks have become very frequent, from the increase of navigation along the shores.  The massacre of the whole crew of the wrecked American vessel Rover caused the American admiral (Bell) to repair to the neighborhood of the wreck to punish the murderers, and after an indecisive action, in which he lost a lieutenant, he withdrew his forces to await a more favourable opportunity for punishing them.  But the American consul at Amoy took the matter up, and, by dint of great perseverance, induced the Chinese Government to despatch a military expedition, and, to make sure of its action, resolved -- much to the chagrin of the Chinese -- to accompany it himself.  For this determination all Europeans, as well as Americans, are deeply indebted to General Le Gendre.  By his instrumentality a road was cut for a distance of fifty-five miles across mountains hitherto deemed inaccessible.  This road connected the coast and capital with Leang-kiow, the last town which in any way acknowledges the Chinese authority, and enabled the force, by a sudden march, to reach the very stronghold of the Coalut tribe [Baiwan], to which the murderers belonged." 

* Hughes 1872 p265
"Until recently no unfortunate mariners, driven on the southern coast, met with any mercy at the hands of the savages; and the massacre of Captain and Mrs. Hunt and the crew of the American barque Rover, by the wild Koa-luts, is still fresh in the memory of us all.  Thanks, however, to the energy of General Le Gendre, United States Consul for Amoy and Formosa, an agreement has been made with the chief of the eighteen tribes of South Formosa, by which the lives of shipwrecked sailors are for the present secure on the most dangerous part of the coast ...".  


* Newton/Barbier eds. 1988 p342
"The knives and daggers of the Formosan authochthones are often described as weapons used in war or during headhunting expeditions.  However, such a specialized application is not proved.  All the groups under consideration use iron blades, the sheath as well as the handle being carved in hard wood.  Only the Paiwan (and their sub-groups) and the Yami of Botel Tobago adorn the sheaths ....  The first adapt the motifs which appear on lintels and traditioanl house-posts: human figures one above another, "hundred pace snakes," or rows of heads.  Sometimes, articulations and the figures' eyes are stressed by small disk-shaped metal inlays."

* Heath 1998 p106
"Their knives were long enough to be described as short swords by some observers, and, being 'always in the savage's belt', were considered part of a tribesman's everyday attire. They were of iron, with a blade some 18-20 ins (46-50 cm) long and about 11/2 ins (4 cm) wide, and a carved, red-painted wooden handle 6-8 ins (15-20 cm) long, with sometimes a rattan or, less often, a copper wire grip. Contemporaries described these knives as 'generally crooked', meaning curved, but some were rather more curved than others, while amongst the Paiwan in particular a few were actually straight. The scabbard was of a one-sided variety quite often encountered in South-East Asia, in which a piece of hardwood was hollowed out to fit the blade. and deerskin thongs, bamboo strips, or sometimes lengths of wire, were fastened across the open side at intervals, or zigzagged down its length, to keep the knife in place. Like the knife-handle, most scabbards had relief carvings -- consisting predominantly of stylised human figures, heads, and snakes -- and were painted red. Those of chieftains or particularly successful warriors were further decorated with coloured pebbles or, amongst the Ami, pieces of shell or mother-of-pearl, which were set into the wood, and tassels of human hair were sometimes fitted to the end. The belt to which the scabbard was attached was made of braided rattan."


* Heath 1998 p105
"They wore jewellery consisting of bead necklaces, shell or bead bangles round the arms and ankles, and armlets of large wild-boar tusks encircling the upper arm, decorated either with tassels of red cloth or human hair. All men wore earrings through large perforations in the lobes of their ears. Most consisted of bamboo tubes a couple of inches long and between half and three-quarters of an inch thick, but those of some Atayal, Saisiat and southern Paiwan wore the largest earrings of all, their ear-lobes consequently being so distended that the Chinese nicknamed them Tao-he-lan ('Big-Ears'). In addition to the main earring some men wore one or more loops of metal wire, the weight of which sometimes tore right through the already stretched skin."


​*​ Heath 1998 p106
"Though few travellers mention them, shields were still in common use even at the beginning of the 20th century. With the single exception of the 'pen-nib' shaped Ami shield, they were constructed of two vertical planks of wood, fixed together at a shallow angle, and were held by means of a single grip. They seem to have averaged about 14 ins (36 cm) across, with a depth that varied between perhaps 22 and 28 ins (56-71 cm). Some were entirely devoid of decoration, and others bore simple patterns involving circles and lines.  Those of the Paiwan, however, were carved in relief with heads, snakes, deer, zigzag lines, and so on, the field generally being painted white with the carvings highlighted in black and sometimes red."


* Heath 1998 p105
"In hot weather it was not unknown for tribesmen to go completely naked, or to wear just a belt (to support their knife) and/or a cap. On most occasions, however, they also wore a breechclout and a usually sleeveless, sack-like jacket, open at the front. Though deerskin clothes were worn among some tribes -- notably those living in the mountains, where heavy snow could fall in winter-time -- the majority were made from a hemp-like 'variegated native cloth', woven so that uncoloured strips alternated horizontally with strips which included a pattern of chocolate-brown strands obtained by means of a vegetable dye. Whenever possible pieces of foreign cloth -- principally red, but occasionally medium or dark blue -- were obtained and unravelled, the coloured threads then being substituted for the traditional brown ones, though jackets and blankets made in this way were reserved for successful warriors and hunters.
    "Except among the Ami the breechclout was customarily worn between the legs, the Ami instead wearing theirs so that both patterned and fringed ends hung down at the front.  Most breechcloths were undyed or whitish, but those of the Yami were black.  The northern and central Paiwan did not wear a breechclout at all, but instead wrapped a skirt-like, pleated black cotton cloth round the waist, the waistband of which was tied at the left hip, leaving the left thigh exposed as the wearer walked.  The southern Paiwan substituted two separate black cloths, so that both thighs were revealed. ...
    "Sleeveless jackets were universally worn, though they varied somewhat in length from place to place: most left the thighs bare, but some were knee-length, while those of the Yami, which were often of coconut fibre, barely came down a far as the waist.  In addition to the coloured threads woven into them, some jackets had a band or red or blue embroidery round the bottom edge and the armholes.  Amongst the Paiwan the jacket was often made of leopard-skin" ....


* Heath 1998 p104-105
"Among the Paiwan tattooing was traditionally limited to members of the tribal nobility, but it was commonplace for other tribesmen to pay their chief for the right to bear tattoos. Though in most respects these were similar to Atayal tattoos, the Paiwan employed a wider range of designs (including snakes, simplistic human figures, and cats' heads) and did not decorate the face, successful warriors instead being tattooed on the chest with small heads equal to the number they had taken. They were also extensively tattooed on the shoulders, arms, and lower leg. Davidson says that tattooing was generally uncommon among the Paiwan, but that they sometimes decorated themselves like Tsarisen chieftains, who were tattooed on the upper arms, chest, and back, having 'one geometrical design made up of parallel lines commencing at the elbow, covering the whole upper arm, and reaching to the shoulder, and a second pattern consists of a complicated geometrical figure leading from the breasts up over the shoulders and down [to] the small of the back.'"