Taiwan president visits nation's last preserver of indigenous facial tattoos

Ipay Wilang registered as preserver of folklore and intangible cultural assets in 2016

Ipay Wilang (left) and President Tsai Ing-wen. (Presidential Office photo)

Ipay Wilang (left) and President Tsai Ing-wen. (Presidential Office photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Tuesday (Feb. 23) went to New Taipei City’s Zhonghe District to visit the last registered preserver of Taiwanese indigenous facial tattoos in the country, Ipay Wilang.

When Tsai arrived at Wilang’s house, she greeted the 100-year-old Seediq tribe member and wished her good health and longevity using the endearing term "Yaki," which means grandmother in the Seediq language.

According to a Presidential Office press release, Wilang proceeded to sing two hymns and make up new lyrics to the songs on the spot. She wished the president good health and thanked everyone in attendance, reciting a prayer to bless the country and its people.

For the special occasion, the Seediq woman was dressed in a traditional red-and-black dress and wore a decorative headband. She had hand-sewn the clothes herself.

The Presidential Office pointed out that Wilang is from Zhuoxi Township in Hualien County and that the Hualien County Government had registered her as a preserver of folklore and intangible cultural assets in 2016. She is also the only surviving preserver of facial tattoos in the country. In recent years, she has been resting at home due to her advanced age.

According to the press release, President Tsai expressed hope that Taiwanese will learn about the tattoo culture of the nation’s indigenous peoples and help pass on indigenous culture to future generations.

Council of Indigenous Peoples Minister Icyang Parod, Minister of Culture Lee Yung-te (李永得), and others also accompanied the president on her visit.

Presidential Office video.

Updated : 2021-03-04 20:25 GMT+08:00