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Origin: The Qing Dynasty
1727-1895

According to historical evidence, the origin of Taiwan’s rush weaving industry can be traced back to the fifth year of the Yongzheng Emperor’s reign during the Qing Dynasty (1727), when the Taukat indigenous people living around the downstream area of the Daan River found that the wild rushes from local swamps were conveniently permeable, being able to absorb moisture. After they were dried under the sun, they gave off a pleasant odour that could repel bugs. These characteristics made them good material when it came to making woven products. The Taukat people started making straw mats with rushes for sitting on the ground, marking the birth of rush weaving culture in the area. 

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©Reed Cultural Museum

The ethnic Minnan and Hakka people called the straw mats that were made with rushes by Taukat people “aborigine mats”. Because aborigine mats had good were permeable, absorptive, fine quality, and fragrant, Han families also found them suitably useful for the subtropical climate. Subsequently, Minnan and Hakkas began asking Taukats to teach how to make such mats. Rush cultivation and weaving techniques were gradually introduced to the predominantly ethnic Han Dajia Street (now the centre of the Dajia District) and Yuanli Village (now the Yuanli township). There were even some Han women starting to make woven mats as a career. 

During the reigns of the Daoguang and Xianfeng Emperors, the rush-weaving products that one could purchase, aside from mats, included bags for tea products, gloves, seat cushions, etc. The old and simple weaving techniques became integrated with complex patterns to create products, of which court officials were fond. These products were exported from Daan Port to big cities across mainland China, such as Canton, Amoy, Shanghai, and Bejing.