Discover Taitung> In Depth Travel >Handmade Paiwan Glass Beads -BIYA Glass Beads

Handmade Paiwan Glass Beads -BIYA Glass Beads

The Paiwan have three treasures: brass blades, clay pots, and glass beads. The glass beads are more than just a tribal decoration, they represent a traditional art and skill as well as wisdom and cultural meaning. We bring you to the BIYA Glass Bead workshop in Dulan to learn about baking these glass beads and learn about the philosophy of Paiwan life.


Qata – a decoration from the gods

The name of the glass beads is called “qata” in the Paiwan language, meaning “beautiful fruit”. To the Paiwan people, Qata isn’t just an ordinary decoration but a treasure from above. The qata used to be the betrothal gifts and became family treasure which could be passed down from generations. Legends say that the Paiwan people were instructed by the gods. They bury the eye of the dragonfly into the earth and became a clear and colorful glass bead. From then on, the qata was viewed as a gift from the gods holding spirit and power. The different patterns of each glass bead have their own story and meaning.

The mission of BIYA Glass Beads workshop is to pass on the traditional method and patterns of bead making. The workshop is run by skilled craftswomen in the tribe. Besides creating these glass beads, beading, cup making, and a three-day-long aboriginal weaving course are provided at the workshop for an all-rounded tribal arts experience.(Photo Credit:IG@atabeads)


Experience the Paiwan Handcrafts

The workshop is made from a repurposed storage space. The interior is spacious and has a high-rise ceiling. A variety of aboriginal arts are on display here, including wood carving, embroidery, and waving. The glass bead workspace is located on the farthest end. Our instructor will begin by introducing the meaning of the patterns and designs. There are more than 50 patterns of glass beads with 36 different meanings. The Kurakurau (Peacock bead) represents “love”, the Maca (eye bead) represents “protection and responsibility”, and the Cadacadaquan (earth bead) represents riches, etc.

The instructor will show us the tips and tricks of forming the beads next. The tiny bead must go to forming, coloring, design pulling, and more steps before it is completed. The baking process requires focus and care. If the bead is too far from the flame, the lowered temperature will result in the bead cracking. The beads must be baked at a temperature between 800-1200°C. You can rest assured because an instructor will be assisting you the whole time. Pick the color of the bead you wish to make and begin the journey to creating your own gem. The whole process will take between 1-1.5 hours. Once the beads are cooled, you can make them into a bracelet, necklace, or accessory.

To make a wonderful travel experience, make your own glass bead with blessings from the tribe. Make your reservation at the BIYA Glass Bead workshop for your next visit to Taitung!(Photo Credit:IG@atabeads)

  • Address: No. 191 Sec. 2 Zhongxing Rd., Taitung City, Taitung County
  • Phone Number: 089-228-107
  • Hours of Operation: 09:00—17:30 (reservation by phone required)