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Old 20th June 2011, 10:38 PM   #1
yuanzhumin
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Default Two Atayal knives from Taiwan/Formosa

Well, as a passionate collector of Taiwan aborigines art, I was lucky enough in the last months to be able to find few more Taiwan knives.
Nothing had came up for months, and then all of a sudden, many opportunities appeared.

Iíve just shown on the forum a Rukai knife
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=13933

Now, Iím happy to share with you two Atayal/Seediq (Sedeq)/Truku knives. I write here Atayal/Seediq/Truku because the Atayalic group of Northern Taiwan is made of 3 distinct groups: the Atayal, the Seediq and the Truku. Before, they were all labeled under the Atayal name but only recently the Truku and then the Seediq were able to be recognized officially as distinct tribes. Their blades are looking alike, and it is very difficult to distinguish one from the other. Still there are sometimes few tips that helps make a difference.

One of these two knives was obtained recently through this forum swap section (Thanks Roy!), and the other one through online auctions.

First, here is a very nice and quite complete Atayal/Seediq/Truku knife, with its fabric belt and rattan handle (Total 67cm, blade 45x16cm, handle 15x3,5cm, blade 45,5x6,5cm). Old collection labels can be seen. some pictures are in the swap section: http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=13645

Here are few additional pictures.
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Old 20th June 2011, 10:42 PM   #2
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I also found this other Atayal/Seediq/Truku knife, more basic and in a little lesser shape (crack along the sheath). Because of the red color of the sheath (for protection against the evil spirits), I would risk labeling it Truku, but not sure. The handle is in the more basic socket shape to fix it on the top of a shaft (wood) and improvise a pole weapon useful when hunting wild boar (Total 72cm, blade 46x5cm, handle 17x3cm, sheath 56x6,5cm)
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Old 20th June 2011, 10:50 PM   #3
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I am almost jealous of you!

Very nice laraw yuanzhumin! It seems with most Atayal (Dayan?), Seediq, and Truku blades, the sheath is the most artistic part of it, with the higher status individuals having nicer sheaths -- since the blades all seem relatively similar (some straighter, some more curved, some a little rough finish, some finer, some wooden handle, some metal socket, etc.)... the sheaths are very graceful looking, like a fish, no?


Saisyat blades (malat?) seem to be stylistically very similar to, but distinct from Atayal/Seediq/Truku knives... I wonder why they preferred straighter pointed blades and sheaths without wide flares at the end.

but maybe I haven't seen enough blades to make a good judgement... ?
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Old 21st June 2011, 12:41 AM   #4
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Smile An Aside ...

I have to wonder when these peoples first reached the Philippines .

I think the connection is undeniable .

Great examples Nicolas .

Best,
Rick
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Old 21st June 2011, 01:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yuanzhumin
I also found this other Atayal/Seediq/Truku knife, more basic and in a little lesser shape (crack along the sheath). Because of the red color of the sheath (for protection against the evil spirits), I would risk labeling it Truku, but not sure. The handle is in the more basic socket shape to fix it on the top of a shaft (wood) and improvise a pole weapon useful when hunting wild boar (Total 72cm, blade 46x5cm, handle 17x3cm, sheath 56x6,5cm)


Nicolas, after viewing your website a while back, I am happy this has gone to a very good home. There was a little more help by another in the journey to you too, you know who you are
The examples and information you provide to the forum on items such as these are invaluable and I am also sure cultural apprection has grown on many readers quite a lot too.

Thanks for sharing all that you do.

Gav
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Old 21st June 2011, 02:29 AM   #6
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Beautiful pieces, Yuanzhumin! Congratulations! I really like the solid one piece blade...no worries about a handle breaking down on you, and the more cone shape handle would grab well in your hand when swung. Thanks for sharing with us your interests in Taiwanese aboriginal culture and craft
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Old 22nd June 2011, 02:26 AM   #7
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Hello all,

To Kukulza,
You pointed at the fact that the Saisiat have similar knives, except they are straight. In fact, despite similarities, the Saisiat are a very different ethnic group, distinct from the whole group of the Atayal, Seediq and Truku. It is said that they were initially plain aborigines that were pushed up in the lower mountains where they had to deal with the Atayal. What better solution than adopting part of their culture to avoid the clashes and survive ? Thatís what they did - it seems. They adjusted themselves to the Atayal culture while remaining different. In consequence, that can explain why their knives have also the wood scabbard open on one side with metal staples, looking like Atayalís ones, but their blade is straight and therefore quite distinct. I have one knife in my collection that I attributed to the Saisiat, but Iím not 100% sure and any other opinion would be welcome (I have seen Amis with very much looking like knives). See here:
http://www.formosatribal.com/show.php?item_id=100

To Rick,
Always good to hear from you! They reached the Philippines around 5000 years ago. In fact, it was one of the earliest places where they migrated coming from Taiwan, before going further down South through the Pacific. Other populations were already in the Philippines. The Austronesians mixed with them and mostly brought their Formosan languages. A theory now is that trading jade was one of their first motivation Ė may be with religious purposes behind. What made possible this Austronesian migration on the seas is the discovery first in Taiwan of the outrigger, and then of the discovery of the catamaran Ė by the same people.

To Gav,
Thanks for your support and for your very nice comments. It is a pleasure to ďdealĒ with you!

To Nathaniel,
I do agree with you. The solid one piece blade with the socket shaped handle is my favorite. It is so cool! And also very devastating in the hands of someone that know how to use it.

Best wishes to all of you.

Nicolas
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Old 23rd June 2011, 02:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yuanzhumin
To Kukulza,
You pointed at the fact that the Saisiat have similar knives, except they are straight. In fact, despite similarities, the Saisiat are a very different ethnic group, distinct from the whole group of the Atayal, Seediq and Truku. [...] I have one knife in my collection that I attributed to the Saisiat, but Iím not 100% sure and any other opinion would be welcome (I have seen Amis with very much looking like knives). See here:
http://www.formosatribal.com/show.php?item_id=100
Thanks for the reply! Sad to think how much of the Formosan tribal cultures were lost over time, after-all, the Plains peoples were more numerous and possibly more diverse than their mountain-living cousins. Also the possibility of Austrolasian peoples having been on Taiwan, which I am assuming is what the Saisyat are referring to when they mention little black people in their legends... since other places such as the Philippines also had such ethnicities who appear to have settled SE Asia long before even the Austronesians....

Quote:
Originally Posted by yuanzhumin
The solid one piece blade with the socket shaped handle is my favorite. It is so cool! And also very devastating in the hands of someone that know how to use it.

Owning one, and having used it extensively, I most definitely concur - the metal socket style of handle is for hard use, and it takes getting used to but is a very good working handle.
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