Dates: Feb 10-11, 17-19, 24-25
Times: 11am - 4pm
Ocean Artworks, Granville Island

Heritage and tradition, rewoven. Slip through time and cross through cultures with this exclusive LunarFest exhibition. 

Taiwan’s crafts culture is the integration of memory, wisdom, and life. “Island Tribute” gathers the works of Taiwanese crafts masters, from bamboo to bulrush to banana fibre, to showcase the island nation’s natural beauty. Generations of innovation and creativity lead to the preservation of traditional artisan skills. Reconnecting with the wisdom of the ancestors, fused with today’s perspective, each piece is a refreshing take on the history of Taiwanese cultural crafts. 

The island nation’s unique geography at the intersection of the Tropic of Cancer and the Kuroshio Current fosters a rich habitat for a variety of plants and living organisms. Craft masters harvest natural resources to create works that reflect the unique cultural identity of Taiwan. This allows Taiwan to have some of the most untapped potential for designers around the world, endless inspiration waiting to be ignited.

Bamboo Says “Crafts masters allow the natural materials to speak for themselves.”  Taiwan has an abundance of bamboo, and many types of it, too. In daily life, everything from fishing baskets, sitting stools, baby cradles, to ceremonial shields seen in temple festivals were all made of bamboo. Founder Huei-Ting Tsai believes that even if traditional needs are replaced by newer mediums, the skills and characteristics of bamboo weaving can still solve the problems of modern society.
Lala Ban Banana Fiber Workshop
Yu Ying Yen uses banana fiber weaving to find a sense of belonging to her tribe. Her body is a part of the weaving process, holding open the fiber threads, and holding together the cultural understanding of the Kavalan tribe.

Her husband, Wanlai Chieh, launched the “Renaming Kavalan Tribe” reclamation movement in 1987. It took fifteen years until the Taiwan government officially recognized the Kavalan tribe as the eleventh Indigenous group in 2002.

Weaving is a very important traditional skill for the Indigenous people of Taiwan. In their journey of reclamation, the Kavalan people discovered that banana fiber craft was documented in their history. Banana fiber weaving is established to be a vital and significant part of the Kavalan people’s identity. In 2006, the Lala Ban Banana Fiber Workshop was established.

From 1870 to 1880, George Leslie Mackay came to Taiwan as a missionary. He took many cultural relics, including the traditional regalia and tools of thet Kavalan people. These are currently kept in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. In 2011, Professor Jiayu Hu from the Department of Anthropology at National Taiwan University discovered this, and shared it with Yu Ying Yen and her daughter Shu Yueh Chieh. This ignited their determination to continue and pass on their unique cultural craft.
“No other place in the world has this. Only we, the Kavalan, do.” Ramie is mostly used in the traditional weaving of Taiwan’s Indigenous peoples. Only the Kavalan people use banana fiber today to preserve their weaving culture.

Banana trees are important to the daily lives of the Kavalan people. They use the entire tree: the edible fruit as sustenance, the leaves as food utensils or medicine, and the stems for weaving materials. The shamans and elders recall the past ways of unfolding the dusty sitting looms, slowly and carefully weaving back together the broken memories of their culture with banana fiber. The banana fiber represents the Kavalan people.

From harvesting the banana stems, scraping down the banana fiber, drying in the sun, dividing and accumulating the threads, to the final dyeing and warping, the weaving process is very difficult and time-consuming. But the Kavalan people refuse to be lazy. The entire village commits themselves to banana fiber weaving because they wish to honour the efforts of their ancestors, to preserve and continue the culture of the Kavalan tribe.
Tshioh Rushcraft
Yuanli is a small town located downstream of a river, with many stones smoothed by the water. In the past, residents used the stones to mark the boundaries of their fields, which also prevented the soil from being washed away. The stones are also used as housing foundations, or as a tool for grinding bulrush woven works.

In this context, local bulrush weaving knowledge and technology is used, with the bulrush woven into the irregular and curving shapes of the stones. The natural patterns of the stones along with the imagery of the babbling creek are reimagined through the traditional weaving technique. The stone, originally rough in texture, is transformed into something warm and delicate through the bulrush.

The skin-friendly feel of the bulrush and the rounded shape of the stones are used to make massage tools and pillows for the health and comfort of the body. The special aroma of the bulrush is also used to heal the body and mind. Through the combination of local craftsmanship and natural resources, the relationship between the bulrush and the stones is reinterpreted.
Summer is the bulrush harvest season and the hottest time of the year. Sitting on a bulrush woven seating mat, its texture cool and comfortable on the skin, the fragrance of bulrush in the air, allows people to forget how hot the weather is.

The delicate lines of the weavework show beautiful craftsmanship. The overall design is woven into a square shape. From the centre starting point, the bulrush is continuously added and slowly fills the polygon. It is a single piece that integrates an advanced weaving process.
Bamboo Says
Bamboo is very unique as a natural resource. For Huei-Ting, bamboo gives her a way to bridge tradition and modernity. The wisdom of the elders is woven in the handicrafts, and their stories are told to you through each intricate pattern. Modern crafts masters analyze the logic behind the stories, and create their own style. At four foot nine, Huei-Ting carries a bamboo tree more than twice her height—it’s easy to see her passion and care for bamboo crafts.
Traditionally, the umbrella grass grows together with rice and marshweeds in the fields of the coastal Indigenous peoples. These three crops fulfilled their daily needs for living, eating, and winemaking in the olden days. The umbrella grass is one of the strongest natural fibers in the Indigenous weaving culture. The seating mats woven with the grass are breathable and durable, the natural wax coating making it resistant to water damage.

Improved by crafts master Sumi Dongi, the umbrella grass stems are collected, carefully picked, and treated. The thin stems curl into narrow tubes after months of drying in the summer sun, causing it to become straight and firm.

LunarFest Vancouver is grateful to be held on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation). We acknowledge our privilege to be gathered on this land, and commit to work with and be respectful to the Indigenous peoples whose cultures and stories inspire us to bring communities together.