04 Yu-Chun Lin

Yu-Chun Lin

The bulrush weaving craft of Yuanli in Taiwan dates back to a document from the fifth year of the Qing Yongzheng period. Nurtured by its unique climate and environment, the triangular bulrush is an indigenous species of Taiwan. This local hand-woven craft industry emerged through the cultural fusion of local Indigenous people of the Pingpu Taokas tribe, as well as the Hokkien and Hakka ethnic groups, for over a century. The bulrush weaving technique, passed down through generations of women, became Taiwan’s third-largest export after sugar and rice during the Japanese colonial period. The women of Yuanli wove bulrush hats and mats as a means of supporting their families. The fragrance of bulrush permeated every household, a shared memory of the people of Yuanli.

However, with the rise of industrialization, cheap plastic products gradually replaced traditional handcrafted industries. Many bulrush weavers had to shift to factory or other industrial work for a livelihood, leading to the gradual decline of the industry. Over a decade ago, local residents of Yuanli united to preserve this precious bulrush weaving craft, forming the “Taiwan Yuan-Li Handiwork Association.” Their primary focus has been on preserving and promoting the art of bulrush weaving. After years of effort, dozens of bulrush weaving artisans have rekindled these traditional skills, leading to the establishment of the craft brand “Tshioh Rushcraft”!

The core philosophy behind Tshioh Rushcraft is “sensory experience, continuing tradition, and innovative design.” By enabling today’s individuals to appreciate the natural beauty of traditional craftsmanship, they have brought the art of bulrush weaving into contemporary life. Through innovative transformation and marketing of the bulrush weaving craft, they are revitalizing the bulrush weaving industry, creating new opportunities for its development.

Bulrush Weaving

  • Bulrush weaving and development of local industry
  • Traditional bulrush weaving for social interaction
  • The cultural significance of traditional weaving craftsmanship

The traditional art of bulrush weaving has evolved into a diverse modern lifestyle. While preserving ancient techniques and culture, bulrush weaving craft masters actively infuse humanities and aesthetics into their creations, giving them a contemporary touch. Their works have expanded beyond traditional hats to include home decor and accessories. This fusion with creativity and fashion appeals to a broad market and aligns with modern society, ensuring its continued prosperity. Bulrush weaving in Yuanli Township is a source of pride, not only receiving local recognition but also promoting Taiwan’s unique charm in a diverse society, a symbol of cultural heritage.

Different ethnic groups have their own cultural weaving heritage, such as Canadian Indigenous people using tree bark to weave hats that carry history and social values. Bulrush weaving in Yuanli has a long history, with women skillfully using bulrush to create hats and mats. It not only showcases their technical prowess but also their aesthetic appreciation of nature and life. During the Japanese colonial period, bulrush weaving became an export product, highlighting its cultural allure. In modern times, it has incorporated humanities and aesthetics, creating diverse works that have become a way of life. Bulrush weaving transcends cultures, a respected and culturally rich way to exchange and represent the local community.