People tend to impose multiple imaginations on an unfamiliar place, a certain kind of culture or simply a person based on some hearsays or trivial knowledge. For instance, when it comes to understanding a tribe or the indigenous people, the plan for an in-depth examination is often hindered by the lack of a channel for learning. The doorway to a mysterious culture has finally opened for me two years ago when I got to know about Kamaro’an, a homeware brand originated from the Amis people who are native to Taiwan. Taking root in the people and culture of the ethnic group as the design concept, Kamaro’an is a brand that creates products for everyday use. We once visited their studio in Hualien for an interview. Strolling in between a vast grassland and the ocean, we came to understand how the natural landscape becomes the inspiration of their affectionate works. The brand never ceases to create stunning new works.
The new product that we are featuring this time is the ilisin wine glass. Ilisin is an Amis word meaning “sacrifice”, which is the annual ceremony of the Makota’ay tribe held in Hualien in July to celebrate a good harvest of rice crops. It also marks the start of a new Amis calendar year. One of the rituals is for the young males of the tribe to serve wine in bamboo wine glass with long handles to the females, while everyone is dancing in a circle. The young men would start handcrafting a bulk of the bamboo glass one month before the ceremony; the design of the glass also changes every year. The ritual is absolutely stunning to watch.
The wine glass above, designed and made by Apo, takes expiration from this very ceremony. Apo is a member of the Makota’ay tribe who is passionate about life by the sea and in the field. He is not only talented in drawing and carpentry, but has also begun doing performing arts recently. The ilisin wine glass is a miniature version that preserves the original elegancy and made with Formosan Michelia, which is even harder than the original. The traces of carving remain visible on the slender and small wine glass, together with the original pattern of the wood itself, they exude a pure and pleasant vibe. The ilisin wine glass can be used as a small spoon for scooping seasonings or stirring your coffee; it can also be used as a charming Chinese hairpin to secure a hair bun. When creating this product, Kamaro’an has departed from its original use to turn it into a utensil that is more commonly used. As told by the brand, “A healthy and sustainable consumption pattern can only be created when products are made based on usability and quality, instead of making products for impulsive consumption like purchasing a souvenir when traveling.”
Through this small spoon or hairpin, let us begin to learn about the tribe, its ancient ceremony, and its traditions and craftsmanship that resist from going lost in the process of urbanization. We hope Kamaro’an can let more people see the beauty of these.