From the Collection of Nina and Gordon Bunshaft, Bequest of Nina Bunshaft, 1994
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 355
The Yami people live in several villages along the shores of Botel Tobago Island, off the southeast coast of Taiwan. This large housepost, or tomor, once acted as the central roof support in a Yami dwelling. Preserved and reused for generations, houseposts were highly valued and passed by inheritance from fathers to their eldest sons. They were decorated with motifs similar to those that formerly adorned the large fishing canoes on which the Yami depended for their livelihood. The circular motifs at the center of this example are known as mata-no-tatara, or "eyes of the canoe," and depict the eyelike designs found on the bows and sterns of fishing vessels. The insectlike figures at the bottom represent Magamoag, an important ancestor credited with bringing the arts of agriculture and boat building to the Yami. Images of Magamoag might have acted, in part, to protect the household from anito, the malevolent souls of the dead. The remaining sections of the post depict more informal scenes of fish and fishing.
Nina and Gordon Bunshaft, New York; Nina Bunshaft, until (d.)1994
Kjellgren, Eric. Oceania: Art of the Pacific Islands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007, 153, 258-9.