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Rush Weaving

Yuan-Li, Taiwan

"An ancient weaving craft that has been passed down for 300 years."

rush weaving

CC BY 臺灣手藺Tshioh RushCraft.

The earliest documentation of Yuanli rush weaving dates back to the fifth year of the Yongzheng period in the Qing Dynasty.

Located in Yuanli Township, Miaoli County, there is a long-standing craftsmanship - rush weaving. The origin of Yuanli's rush weaving can be traced back to Mrs. Hong Yang(洪鴦女士), who lived in the late Qing Dynasty. Faced with the predicament of her son suffering from infected sores on his head, emitting a foul odor and attracting flies, Mrs. Hong, compelled by maternal love, put her ingenuity to work. Eventually, she successfully wove the first rush hat in Taiwan to protect her young son. 

For over a century, the skilled hands of women in Yuanli have been tirelessly weaving distinctive straw mats and hats. These handmade products have significantly contributed to the family income, providing a substantial source of revenue. In the early days, the educational expenses of Yuanli residents often came from the skilled hands of mothers engaged in rush weaving. Therefore, the rush weaving craftsmanship in Yuanli has long been a radiant manifestation of maternal love.

dried rush grass
old photo of woman doing rush weaving on the mat

Arousing the motherhood and memories through rush weaving.


The women in Yuanli do not engage in sericulture or embroidery with needles and threads. They labor day and night, using their fingers to weave rush, making straw hats and mats to earn money to support their parents-in-law. The women weaving rush are so busy that they hardly taste the food they eat, and their sleep is often restless. People hope for daughters rather than sons because while boys may not take their work seriously, girls, through weaving mats and hats, enable the family to live well. If the work cannot be finished during the day, they continue the next day, and if still incomplete, they work on it at night. It is important to understand that these countless woven mats and hats represent the tremendous effort of many women.

CC BY Culture and Tourism Bureau, Miaoli County

Although rush grass grows all over the world, triangular rush(三角藺)—so-called for its distinctly triangular cross section—is particular to Yuanli. Nurtured by the unique climate and environment, it differs from rush grass found in Japan, China, Vietnam, and even other parts of Taiwan. 

This indigenous triangular rush grass became the main material for a local handwoven industry that evolved through centuries of cultural fusion with the local Pingpu tribes, the Dacascos, and the Hoklo and Hakka ethnic groups.

old photo of women doing rush weaving together.

"My mom, grandma... they all make these... and I can also do a little..."

The daughters and mothers in Yuanli have woven the tapestry of their own lives with rush weaving.

The skill of rush weaving, passed down from mothers to daughters, created a sales miracle, making it the third-largest export product in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period, surpassed only by sugar and rice.

Local women engaged in rush grass hat and mat weaving to support their families, and the fragrance of rush grass filled every household, becoming a shared nostalgia for the people of Yuanli.

However, with the rise of industrialization, inexpensive plastic products gradually replaced traditional handmade crafts. Faced with economic pressures, many rush grass weavers shifted to working in factories or other industries, leading to the decline of the rush grass weaving industry.

About a decade ago, local residents in Yuanli formed the "Taiwan Yuanli Handiwork Association" to preserve this precious craft. The association is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of rush grass weaving, and after years of effort, dozens of rush grass weaving artisans have revived the traditional skills.


In order to attract consumers, the "Taiwan Rush grass Association" innovatively combines the craft with sensory experiences. Hoping to create a new image for rush grass weaving, they established the craft brand "Tshioh RushCraft".

The brand's core values are "sensory experience, tradition continuation, and innovative design." Considering the consumer's perspective, they use composite materials and incorporate design elements to give the traditional craft a fresh and modern look.

The Birth of a Rush weaving Product

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