Kanepochi Shaman’s Box

Paiwan People, Taiwan

Wood, metal, shell, fiber, cotton, lacquer

19th/very early 20th Century

6x5 in/15x12.5 cm

Shaman’s boxes classically feature two great “eyes” to ward off evil and serve as protection against malevolent spirits; in this very early example, that iconography is reduced to pure abstraction. The box, in which were kept shamanic medicines, displays particularly sensitive shell inlay work and very thick red lacquer, a color sacred to the Paiwan, so like the blood of life. The interlacing at the top of the box and its woven cotton cord are original, in an excellent state of preservation and of very high quality.