This striking necklace comes with 2.5-inch imitation animal tooth pendant complemented by a traditional style bead of the Rukai tribe. The chain measures at least 18 inches but, as each necklace is handmade, allow for some variation in the chain length as well as bead pattern. Meat was an important source of protein in the traditional diet of the Rukai people. Thus, a hunter who successfully brought back prey to share with the residents of his village received honor and glory. In addition, no part of the animal was wasted including the teeth which were an important source of decorative ornaments.
Photos courtesy of Henry Westheim Photography/Asia Photo Connection
Alelean Marulagai is from the Rukai tribe, born in Wutai Township of Pingtung County. Marulagai is a master craftsperson having gained recognition among the people of her tribe and of other tribes as one of the few remaining traditional headdress makers. Traditionally, Rukai hunters proudly displayed their achievements. Wild boar tusks and jaw bones, deer antlers, eagle claws and other animal parts adorned headdresses and even the exterior and interior of homes. Now, that the hunting culture is rapidly disappearing and to complement the concepts of and trends in environmental conservation, the Wild Man Working House, which is made up of Marulagai and Han Chinese designer Daphne Lo, is creating imitation tusks, teeth and antlers. These are used in conjunction with traditional style Rukai beads to produce contemporary jewelry designs and accessories that are infused with the beauty of Rukai culture.