| Man's ceremonial jacket

Atayal people

Man's ceremonial jacket 19th century
ramie fibre, shells
88.0 (h) x 48.0 (w) cm
Purchased 1988
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
NGA 1988.639


Elaborately decorated jackets are markers of high status and protection in Southeast Asia. While little is known about the specific functions of Atayal tunics, in the indigenous cultures of Taiwan fine items of apparel were embellished with images alluding to great ancestors and with symbols that marked the physical prowess of successful headhunters. This fine hemp jacket laden with white shell discs was worn by a mature male member of a noble family with access to the prestigious shell beads imported from the coast.

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