I’ve long felt that the indigenous peoples of Taiwan should be included as members of Southeast Asia. There are clear commonalities between their lifestyles and those of people in places like Borneo and the mountains of the Southeast Asian mainland.


The Atayal woman above, for instance, reminds me of pictures that I have seen of tattooed minority women in Burma.


Japanese photographers were among the first people (perhaps the first?) to take pictures of the indigenous peoples of Taiwan. They started to do so not long after they had obtained that island as a colonial possession in the late nineteenth century, when it was known to people in the West as Formosa, and when the “savages” on the island, like this group here, were still culturally very distinct.


That said, it is also clear that there was a lot of cultural mixing that went on, as the attire of this elite Paiwan couple indicates.

man and woman

With this commoner couple, however, we see the same situation where the woman is dressed in what appears to be a more Sinicized outfit.

Amis couple

This Amis couple is similar.


This headman from Pingdong County, on the other hand, looks defiantly indigenous.


As does this warrior here.

These pictures come from the East Asian Image Collection at Lafayette College. The links above are to pages that contain source information for each picture.