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Exhibition on Taiwan, Thailand traditional tattoo cultures opens in Bangkok

Atayal artist and historian Baunay Watan explains traditional tribal facial markings at the opening of “Tattoo Color, Tattoo Honor” July 15 in Bangkok. (Courtesy of MOC)

Atayal artist and historian Baunay Watan explains traditional tribal facial markings at the opening of “Tattoo Color, Tattoo Honor” July 15 in Bangkok. (Courtesy of MOC)

A joint exhibition on traditional tattoo practices in Taiwan and Thailand opened July 15 at the Museum Siam in Bangkok, underscoring government efforts to strengthen cultural exchanges with the New Southbound Policy target country.
 
Sponsored by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture, “Tattoo Color, Tattoo Honor” is co-organized by Taipei City-based National Taiwan Museum and the Museum Siam. It spotlights related customs in the Southeast Asian country and among Taiwan’s Atayal and Paiwan indigenous peoples.
 
Running through Oct. 27, the event features equipment, photographs of tribal elders, video interviews and wooden sculptures that reveal the meanings and stories behind various designs.
 
NTM Director Hung Shih-yu said the exhibition provides an opportunity to shed light on these disappearing traditions and their cultural significance, such as how each tattoo on the face and body is a mark of honor.
 
The show aims to facilitate exchanges between different ethnic groups and deepen Thai people’s understanding of Taiwan’s indigenous cultures, Hung added.
 
Also speaking at the opening, Atayal artist and historian Baunay Watan said the tribe’s tattoos convey its people’s beliefs and perspectives. Only members with facial tattoos can be recognized by their ancestors in the afterlife, he added.
 
According to NTM, the event is the second it has organized in an NSP target country, following a photography exhibition highlighting Taiwan’s biodiversity at Hanoi Museum in 2017.
 
A key plank in the government’s national development strategy, the NSP is enhancing Taiwan’s agricultural, business, cultural, education, tourism and trade ties with the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand. (CPY-E)