The wide use of pottery is the major characteristic of the Neolithic Age. Since pottery pieces account for the majority of the artifacts excavated, it is believed that pottery was indeed widely used in the Neolithic Age. Although the ways that pottery was made differ in each excavation site, pottery was an important tool.
The use of pottery in Taiwan dates back to Neolithic Age. The excavation of pottery vessels with rope pattering at the Dapenkeng Site and red pottery made of fine sand at the Puyuma Archeological Site indicates that there was wide use of pottery in prehistoric Taiwan. Pottery was used as tools or crafts and also used for entertainment, worshipping, and in burial activities.
Pottery making skills have developed in Taiwan for more than five thousand years. Amis and Yami (Tao) groups are the only tribes that make pottery in recent years. Other tribes in Taiwan no longer make pottery. According to early documentation of indigenous people in Taiwan, pottery was widely used in each tribe except for the Atayal and Saisiyat. The excavated remains reveal that among all the tribes in Taiwan, Paiwan made the most exquisite pottery.
For Amis, pottery making is a profession for women. Tools required for pottery making include wood clappers, gravel, and knives. Gathering clay is the first step to create pottery. Clay is collected, put in a big bamboo basket, and pounded with a pestle. Women first squat beside the bamboo basket full of clay and pinch and model the clay. The Amis mold the pottery and modify it with a clapper. An anvil is a rock, picked from the riverbed, with an approximate diameter of seven centimeters. Pottery is molded on a pedestal, and the clapper is a paddle shaped plank. The pottery is then dried indoors for four or five days. Firewood or sticks are gathered, dried, and piled up. Pottery is put on the piles of firewood, covered with sticks and hay, then finally covered with chaff, and burned.
Pottery making is a man's job for the Yami (Tao) in Lanyu. Pottery is made after the busy flying fish season, and boat making and house building period, but before the coming of the monsoon season. Male Yami (Tao) make cans by the clay coil method, and bowls using the molding method. Tools include the lap stone and wood clappers. The shape is made, dried, and fired in the outdoors as the Amis women do. Pottery creations include cans, bowls, and dolls. The Yami's unique skill is to make ceramic dolls.