Formosan aborigines
January 23, 2010 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Formosa – photographed by Torii Ryuzo.
posted by tellurian (22 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Tellurian, could you flesh this out a little, please? Other than their obvious age, what makes these photos worth looking at?

The primary link's captions aren't in English, and the Torii Ryuzo link doesn't explain who the Formosan aborigines are. Perhaps this is obvious to folks who are intimately acquainted with Chinese history, but I had to use Google to find out that Taiwan used to be known as Formosa.
posted by zarq at 10:42 AM on January 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

Just look at the photos and say goodbye to a life and culture. 'Obvious age' is enough for me to post and for you to appreciate.
posted by tellurian at 10:55 AM on January 23, 2010

Fair enough. A shame, though. More information would have made them more accessible, at least for me.
posted by zarq at 11:01 AM on January 23, 2010

No, it's really not enough. Tell us why this is important.
posted by lunasol at 11:03 AM on January 23, 2010 [12 favorites]

Vague understanding of Taiwanese history + Amateur Google detective work = Taiwan wasn't always Chinese, there were aboriginal cultures living and thriving there. After colonization by the Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese then Chinese again these aboriginal cultures are, today, gone (but maybe not completely?). These pictures capture their dying days (sadly analogous to 19th pictures of native North Americans). Interesting post!
posted by molecicco at 11:19 AM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Important. No.
Interesting. Yes.
For goodness sake! I found these photos and thought others might find them interesting too.
posted by tellurian at 11:28 AM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Metafilter: No
posted by found missing at 11:28 AM on January 23, 2010

'Obvious age' is enough for me to post and for you to appreciate.

For what its worth, I agree that everyone should be able to appreciate my context-less posts about history that they are not familiar with and in languages they are unlikely to understand as well.

posted by Joey Michaels at 11:41 AM on January 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

(Though, snark aside, I do know about the history of Formosa and thought the pictures were great)
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:41 AM on January 23, 2010

No, it's really not enough. Tell us why this is important.
The costumes of the various subjects are rebuses, so arranged in a particular order, the photographs provide a visual map to the famous buried treasure of Koxinga. Doesn't everyone know this?
posted by Abiezer at 11:43 AM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

For what it's worth, Taiwan was originally known as Formosa. It was inhabited originally by by Austronesian People who were systematically marginalized by a variety of colonial forces, including the Dutch (who named it Formosa), the Qing dynasty, the Japanese and eventually the Nationalist forces, particularly as they fled after their defeat.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:47 AM on January 23, 2010

FormosaTaiwanese Aborigines.

Also, interesting photos.
posted by Atreides at 11:51 AM on January 23, 2010

Ah, sorry Joey. Didn't float over your "inhabited originally" link.
posted by Atreides at 11:52 AM on January 23, 2010

Entanglements of ethnographic images: Torii Ryuzo's photographic record of Taiwan aborigines (1896-1900) - abstract:
The ethnographic photographs of Taiwan aborigines by the Meiji anthropologist Torii Ryuzo enhance our understanding not only of the native culture but also the colonial maker himself. Against the backdrop of Japan's colonization of Taiwan, this photographic record reveals the particular features of the aboriginal culture in which Torii was interested, the way he captured and portrayed his subjects, as well as possible motivations behind his work. More than just scientific evidence, these pictures are 'social artifacts' that expose as much about the historical, political, and personal agenda of their creator at the turn of the twentieth century as they do of Taiwan aboriginal vestiges.
posted by pracowity at 11:53 AM on January 23, 2010

I was born in Taiwan. Back in grade school we went on a field trip to visit the national "aboriginal" museum. It was a smallish but well-tended exhibit of the indigenous culture (e.g. the huts like in these photos) with Chinese influence clearly mixed in (e.g. the practice of foot binding). Now that I try, I don't recall any photos of the actual aboriginal people--everything on display consisted of inanimate objects. So this post kind of reconciles that for me; thanks.

Formosa is such a beautiful name. Annoyingly, sometimes people mishear Thailand for Taiwan.
posted by polymodus at 12:11 PM on January 23, 2010

Thank you, molecicco, Atreides and pracowity. Much appreciated.
posted by zarq at 12:14 PM on January 23, 2010

Wow. This is utterly stunning. Taiwan? This is Taiwan?

How the world has totally, utterly changed.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:11 PM on January 23, 2010

Yay, ethnohistorical porn! More, please!
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:08 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Gao Yi Sheng, Taiwanese aboriginal musician who fought against the KMT in the 228 Incident

Taiwanese aboriginal dance

Taiwanese aboriginal music

Taiwanese aboriginal TV station (BBC report)

The Pingquanhui, an anti-aboriginal racist organization

Taiwanese aborigines as tourist attraction

Shung Ye museum of Formosan aborigines
posted by problemspace at 7:20 PM on January 23, 2010

Wow, these are great photos. I live in Taiwan and have seen quite a few historical photos of the aborigines, but these are new to me. Thanks!
posted by rmmcclay at 8:12 PM on January 23, 2010

More flesh on this post really would have really been nice. I mean, I realize it's an editorial and stylistic choice, but Torii Ryūzō was a part of - a pretty important part of - the mechanism by which the life and the culture were eliminated. This post seemed to be a useful tool for understanding a bit more, at least to me.

That said, if this is 1896-1900, this is pretty cutting-edge stuff, no? Somebody who knows more about the history of photography in ethnography should probably answer that, though.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 10:30 PM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

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