Bikini models break taboo on Orchid Island, anger aborigines

Bikini models draw flack from Paiwan singer ABAO among others for posing in front of sacred vessels on Orchid Island

Screen capture of JKF Facebook post.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- After Wu Ai-erh (吳艾兒), a local of Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼), objected to a series of photos showing scantily clad models posing in front of boats sacred to the indigenous people of the island, Paiwan (排灣族) singer ABAO (阿爆) yesterday also took to the social media platform to criticize the photo shoot.

In the photos, which were posted on Oct. 9 on the website and Facebook page of the men's magazine JKF, the models Verna (王薇) and Yuyu Wong (王瑜欣) can bee seen clad in string bikinis holding a Taiwanese flag while striking provocative poses in front of traditional fishing boats of the Yami Tao  people, who have inhabited Orchid Island for at least 800 years. 

In ABAO's post, she says that she feels unconformable seeing these photos and says "For those who are not familiar with something, a scientific approach would be better." She also added hashtags such as "#Older people who see this would feel sad."

As for Wu's take, she admonishes the those involved in shoot that if they want to include some culture, they should "do their homework first." Wu says that as a native of Orchid Island, she feels obligated to inform the publishers of JKF that the people of her island are conservative and that the Yami boats are sacred. She then elaborated further:

"Only men are allowed to touch the boats, especially during the 3-6 month flying fish season, while it is taboo for women to touch or even come close to the boats. Those two women have seriously damaged the taboo which we have long respected, and wearing bikinis in front of the lens with the boats was really wrong. No matter where you go, please do your homework and understand the local culture."

She later updates her post by saying that the photographers say that they had paid to rent the boats from the owner and had received his permission to take photographs. She then suggests that in future similar situations, they should explain that such permission was received and "don't use the word 'culture,' the Yami vessel represents the traditional cultural spirit of Orchid Island, it has certain taboos, otherwise many people will be mislead."