Object Vest
Culture Yami (orchid island)
Dating 19th century
Dimensions Height 51 cm,  width 38 cm
Material Rattan, fish skin, orchid stems(?), bamboo
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The vest is woven from a framework of rattan fibres and bamboo and pieces of dried fish skin are sewn on it in backstitch. Fibres from orchid stems could have been used for the edging, which is a clear reference to the origin of the object (Orchid Island). In the hip area, a piece of wood is inserted through two eyelets to close the vest.

The helmet which serves as an example for comparison does not originally belong to the waistcoat. It is woven from rattan and probably comes from the Orchid Island.

This vest is made by the Yami people, who live on the Orchid Island Lan Yu and do not practice headhunting. The volcanic island is located 60 km southeast of Taiwan and has a size of 45 square kilometres. The Yami people, also known as Tao people, lived from fishing and built boats as an extension of themselves and as a means of honouring their spiritual beliefs. The vests are supposed to protect them against malevolent spirits when at sea. The rigid and dry fish skin is strong enough to repel a spearhead in battle. A Yami always carries a spear and a sword with him on setting out from his home.

Yami people of the Orchid Island