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Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines

The Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines (順益台灣原住民博物館; shūnyì táiwān yuánzhùmín bówùguǎn), 100m up Zhishan Road from the Palace Museum, is one of Taipei’s most appealing museums, providing a thorough introduction to Taiwan’s indigenous population. As of 2010 there were fourteen formally recognized tribes, though the museum focuses on the nine most prominent: the Ami, Atayal, Bunun, Paiwan, Puyuma, Rukai, Saisiyat, Tao and Cou (Tsou). The collection isn’t particularly large, but it’s well presented in English and Chinese, and videos covering the origins and current social situation of the various tribes on the first floor are excellent – just make sure you avoid school parties and tour groups because you’ll miss most of the commentary. The basement is the most intriguing part of the museum, highlighting festivals, myths and rituals, with a special area dedicated to head-hunting and a selection of ceremonial weapons.

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