Orchid Island male with spears and takkarus, see second man first row from left.


Shaman Dagger “takkarus”

This dagger from Botel Tobago (orchid island) has a simple appearance, but represents a very old form that dates back to the Bronze Age. It represents the ancient tradition of the Tao (Yami) of Botel Togabo, whose material culture in many aspects continues very early Metal Age Austronesian elements. The island of Botel Tobago, which rises above 600 m above sea level, is relatively well protected from invaders due to the regular typhoons, which has relatively effectively prevented it from being appropriated by the Sino-Taiwanese population. This is one of the reasons why the houses of the Yami are built into recessed stone platforms, as is also known from the Paiwan.

The main island Botel Tobago is 13.3 kilometres long and 7.3 kilometres wide. Botel Tobago, where about 6000 people live, was settled by the Austronesian Tao about 800 years ago from the southern Philippine Batan Islands (Batanes). The island is separated by the Bashi trench in the Strait of Luzon. The Yami are culturally close relatives of the mountain groups of Luzon, Austronesians, who are still culturally very similar to the Batan people. They call the island Ponso no Tao or Pongso no Tawo (island of the people), which was verbally horned to “Botel Tobago”, or Irala. The Americans of Formosa, who culturally hardly differ from the Tao, call them Buturu, the Puyuma Botol. Until the end of the 17th century there were still regular connections to the Batan Islands.

The population on Botel Tobago lives mainly from fishing and from taro and millet, which are cultivated on partly irrigated terraces. Pigs, chickens and goats are also kept, but meat is only eaten on festive occasions, usually in conjunction with the cyclical ancestral festivals. The Yami practice pottery and, interestingly, silverwork – both elements that were certainly brought back from Luzon. The same is true for the dagger form takkarus, which is a direct reference to Bronze Age short sword forms from Chinese-Thai Bronze Age cultures such as Dian and Dong-Son culture. This simple dagger thus represents an unbroken tradition of well over 2000 years.



Object Shaman dagger “takkarus”
Culture Botel Tobago (orchid island), Tao / Ami
Time 18th / 19th century (?)
Dimensions Length 31 cm
Material Wood, rattan, steel
Supplementing Literature Back to room view