This striking necklace comes with a cone snail shell pendant that measures between 1.5 and 2 inches (please allow for some variation in size). The chain measures between 18 and 20 inches (as each necklace is handmade please allow for variation). Before the introduction of currency, cone snail shells were used as payment in traditional Rukai society. According to the Rukai oral history, when the Dutch left Taiwan on ships, after being defeated by Koxinga, a Chinese warlord, in the 17th century, they dumped large numbers of these shells into the sea. The Rukai people though that the Dutch had left these as gifts, but were most likely lightening their load for a speedier escape.
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.