Glass beads are one of the treasures of the Paiwan tribe. From oral legends, these beads magically appeared in the wilderness, and today their origins remain unclear. As there were no records left on how to make these beads or the materials that were used, Paiwan artists in Sandimen Township in Taiwan’s southern Pingtung County have carried out research to re-create them, each one with a special motif and meaning, such as eyes, feathers of a peacock, the lily flower or tears of the sun. These artists have also been working to apply these motifs to more contemporary, but still handmade, glass bead works. Some of these are exquisite art pieces such as the large orange bead with flower and stems pattern. This bead measures almost 2 inches (5 centimeters) in length! The silver bells hanging down from this pendant and the silver accents along the chain were inspired by the silver ornaments that often accompanied traditional glass bead necklaces. Smaller orange and green glass beads also decorate the chain.
Sha Tao is a member of the Paiwan tribe from Sandimen Township in southern Taiwan. He first entered the art world as a dancer. On international tours, he would bring glass and ceramic beads to give as gifts and to sell. He found that they were very popular and unique to Taiwan’s indigenous Paiwan and Rukai tribes. They are also one of the cultural treasures of the Paiwan. From this experience, Sha Tao made the decision to open a workshop to produce glass and ceramic bead accessories and art works.