An early 20th century Yami canoe was recently photographed in the Digitization Lab at the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (IPCH). The Yami, sometimes referred to as the Tao, are a Taiwanese aboriginal people native to Orchid Island, located 28 miles southeast of the main island of Taiwan. As of 2015, several thousand Yami still reside on the island.
According to Dr. Ruth Barnes, the Thomas Jaffe Curator of Indo-Pacific Art, “The Yami call this boat ‘tatara’. Apart from its nice decorations, it is especially interesting for its building technique, a so-called ‘lashed lug technique’ which is made up of individual planks carefully fitted together, like a puzzle. Traditionally no nails are used, it is all dowels, although in this boat we found some metal clamps. My husband, Professor Robert H. Barnes, is an expert on this type of boat, as he has recorded it in an Indonesia whaling village where he has worked as an anthropologist.”
The collaboration between the Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG) and Professor Barnes demonstrates YUAG’s commitment to bringing special expertise to documenting its collections.
The canoe is a promised gift of Thomas Jaffe, B.A. 1971, to the Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG).
Images were collected by a YUAG team consisting of:
- Rich House, Senior Photographer
- Dr. Ruth Barnes, the Thomas Jaffe Curator of Indo-Pacific Art
- David Whaples, Visual Resources Coordinator
- Ben Diebold, Senior Museum Assistant, Indo-Pacific Art
Yami canoe upright and fully assembled. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Image showing the creation of a lash-lugged boat: seen here, the internal dowels are placed into the keel. Professor R. H. Barnes (in plaid on the right) in the fishing village Lamalera, on the island Lembata, Eastern Indonesia. November 1982. Photo Credit: Ruth Barnes
*To see more images of the Yami canoe, please follow this link. This and many other images are available for free unrestricted downloads through Yale’s generous Open Access policy.