Department of Art and Art History Calendar

Art History Lecture Series presents screening of Returning Souls

Amis tribe

A film by Dr. Tai-Li Hu (Academia Sinica) with the performance by the violinist Mr. Cho-Liang Lin (Rice University) of the film's score composed by Dr. Shih-Hui Chen (Rice University), followed by a discussion with Dr. Tai-Li Hu and Dr. Yun-Chiahn C. Sena (UT Austin)

In the most famous ancestral house of Taiwan’s Amis Tribe, carved pillars told the community’s cherished ancient legends. Some forty years ago, a typhoon toppled the house, after which the pillars were moved to the Institute of Ethnology Museum, Academia Sinica.  Recently, with the assistance of tribal shamans, Amis villagers communicated with the souls of their ancestors residing in the pillars and eventually brought the souls back to the village.  With tremendous efforts made by the Amis villagers and local legislators, a reconstruction of the ancestral house began.  However, the villagers quickly realized what they need to do is much more than building a new house.

The documentary Returning Souls depicts this strange yet familiar story.  In a place where Western cultures, traditional rituals, national land policy and local politics collide, the problems faced by the Amis villagers in their journey back to their cultural roots speak to those all around the world who also wish to connect past and present, old and new.

For more information about the film, visit

A reception in the building's lobby will precede the screening at 4:30.