Applying a Fire God Ritual into Product Design

Ritual Design lab - Palamal ritual product design 1

A book chapter from Cross-Cultural Design,  A Study of Applying Sakizaya Tribe’s Palamal (The Fire God Ritual) into Cultural Creative Products Design, profiles the authors’ attempts to take a very specific ritual (a memorial ceremony from an indigenous group in Taiwan) and trying to draw upon its details & symbols to make better product design. The chapter’s abstract

The Palamal is a memorial ceremony during which the Sakiazya people to worship their ancestors. This study is based on searching for possibilities in applying the Sakiazya Palamal to the creative culture industry as the main research issue, emphasizing the integration of interdisciplinary fields. Besides conferring the dance gestures, ritual clothing and decorations for the Sakiazya Palamal, research for product design development will also be held in coordination with the Sakiazya performance promotion.

As for the research methodology, collecting literature data and onsite interview will be used for this project; through the investigation of the Sakiazya cultural tradition and the understanding of ceremony rituals and worship utensils, this study intends to present the rich and vivid culture with a new look, the combination of traditional elements with modern creative ideas will transform our cultural essence into commercial culture products and artistic performance.

The transformation process must be treated with respect, thus, we must understand the taboo and the deeper meaning of the culture to prevent conflicts due to cultural differences.

The authors drew on specific elements of the fire god ritual:

  • the boulders used in the ceremonial square, that are used to represent Gods’ duties and the principles of living
  • the posts that are used to carry around sacrificial offerings to prevent evil spirits from entering sacred spaces
  • fences used to separate the tribe from other groups and to protect their homes
  • triangle markings that symbolize God’s carving of a mountain
  • totems carved into boulders to represent specific duties and principles
  • slingshots used by warriors to shoot tree nuts at their enemies

Using these points of inspiration, the designers created these ritual-inspired products:

  • an eraser styled like the bloulders
  • a fruit platter & forks like the sacrificial posts
  • a keychain that wraps up and protects keys
  • a pillow that imprints triangles on the sleeper’s cheek
  • dishware 3d printed with totem signs
  • a chair designed in the shape of a slingshot




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