The Yuanli Collection

Triangle Rush Weaving

Triangle rush weaving in Taiwan stretches back more than 200 years in a sleepy town bordered by Daan, Fangli, and Yuanli River. It was the women of the Taokas tribe who first used triangle rush to make mats. Later in 1897, a female resident of Yuanli, Hung Yuan, started weaving triangle rush into hats for her son.

In its heyday, triangle rush products comprised Taiwan's third largest export after sugar and rice. From grandmas and mothers to daughters and daughters-in-law, every female in the family knew how to weave. Ancient Yuanli society was matriarchal. The women of Yuanli were the breadwinners and earned enough to provide for everyone in the family, thanks to triangle rush weaving. Women wove mats and coasters in their living rooms, usually with their kids in tow. A coaster takes at least 12 hours to make, a placemat 48, and a picnic mat a month or more.

Due to the abundance of cheaper mass-produced goods, the triangle rush weaving industry ground to a halt in the 1970s. Many local girls left the town to work in factories. It was only revived in the early 2000s when the government launched a series of community development projects aimed at breathing life back into Taiwan's dying industries.

Nowadays, it's mostly retirees who are hard at work preserving this traditional craft. With no one to pass their skills to and with mass production still posing a threat, this once-loved art is again on the brink of extinction.

*45% to 60% of the sales from this collection will go to our artisan partners in Yuanli.

The Weaving Process

Rush is harvested thrice a year - once between April and May, August and September, and finally in November. They are laid out in the sun to dry; this process gives them a golden brown tone and strengthens the fiber.

They are then tied into sheaves before storing in a cool, dry place.

Once cured, the root ends are chopped off. The next step involves a labor-intensive process in which a needle is used to split the leaves into thin strips.

Finally, they are pound and rubbed against a hard surface until they become soft and pliable.

After several months of preparation, the rush fiber is finally ready for weaving! Weaving alone can take between 24 hours to a month!