Creating, enduring and transforming: pots and people in southern Taiwan.

Author(s): Yvonne Marshall

Year: 2017


This paper seeks to reframe archaeological thinking on what constitutes ‘an object’ and how such objects endure through time. I will consider the changing presence of pots among the Paiwan people of southern Taiwan over the past 2000 years. The Paiwan are understood to have ‘lost their pots’ at least 100 years ago, in the sense that they chose to stop making them. This ‘loss’ is has been presumed to result from Chinese and Japanese colonial interventions during the 19th and 20th centuries. However, newly emerging archaeological evidence from the Southern Paiwan Project directed by Prof Maa-ling Chen suggests pottery production may have ceased many centuries earlier than previously thought.

Although the Paiwan do not now make pots, and may not have made pots for quite some time, pots remain central to Paiwan ontology; to how they understand themselves to be in the world and how they position themselves in today’s world. The continuing significance of pots, and their frequent incorporation into highly invisible public architecture, calls into question simple assumptions about ‘loss’ and about the ways objects remade materially, and made meaningful as cultures transform.

Cite this Record

Creating, enduring and transforming: pots and people in southern Taiwan.. Yvonne Marshall. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429908)


Geographic Keywords
East/Southeast Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14497