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TAIWANFUN MAGAZINE, August 2008
 

TAITUNG COUNTY GOVERNMENT TAITUNG COUNTY GOVERNMENT
Cultural Flavors


:: Aboriginal Culture

A long time ago, the Tatitung area was exclusively occupied by Aborigines. It wasn't until 1874 that a "Cut Mountains" and "Protect Foreigners" policy inspired Han Chinese to enter the area through the "back" of the mountain and set up shop. Though Taitung is a diverse area today, a large percentage of its population are Aborigines, adding to native Taiwan's millennial history.

Since practically the beginning of human history (c. 30,000 years ago) people have lived in Taitung. Almost every tribe and civilization has left behind clues and artifacts which act as a diverse tapestry and history of the people who lived off of this land for thousands of years. Today, more than one-third of Taitung residents have an aboriginal heritage, hailing from such tribes as Beinan, Paiwan, Rukai (Ruba Ruba), Bunun, Amis, Yami (Tao) and Karalan.

 

Beinan tribe 卑南族

People of the Beinan tribe (the Puyuma people) are located mostly in Taitung City and Beinan Township. A matriarchal society, these people's livelihoods depend upon farming and hunting. Although the customs and habits of the Beinan tribe vary from place to place and family to family, there are still holy days, holidays and customs observed by all members. These include the July and August harvest festivals, a New Year Celebration that starts on December 24, the "Young Monkey's Ritual", debutante ceremonies, an annual Great Hunting ritual, and funeral rites.


布農族為典型的高山原住民,分布在埔里以南的中央山脈及東側,在台東縣則多集中於海端及延平兩鄉,是嚴守一夫一妻制的族群;布農族人和音唱法非常獨特,連小孩子都能以和音吟頌歌謠,這聞名的八部合音,是上天賦予布農族人最特殊的才能。 布農族為典型的高山原住民,分布在埔里以南的中央山脈及東側,在台東縣則多集中於海端及延平兩鄉,是嚴守一夫一妻制的族群;布農族人和音唱法非常獨特,連小孩子都能以和音吟頌歌謠,這聞名的八部合音,是上天賦予布農族人最特殊的才能。

Traditionally, people of the Bunun tribe lived in the high mountains. Now they live in areas like southern and eastern Puli in the Central Mountain Range and in Taitung County. Culturally, Bunan people emphasize familial responsibilities and consider the duties of husband and wife most sacred. This tribe is also well-known for their love of music and their rich tradition of songs and musical groups. Even small children, brought up in this musical environment, can carry a tune quite nicely.


Amis tribe Amis tribe

The Amis people are Taitung's largest aboriginal tribe. Socially, the tribe places tremendous importance on the place and rank of each member of society, and especially reveres elders. Every year in late summer, the Amis people really come alive through harvest festivals that feature song and dance. The tribe's distinctive songs are delightful in style, easy to comprehend and generally upbeat and friendly.


Rukai (Ruba Ruba) tribe Rukai (Ruba Ruba) tribe

People of the Rukai (Ruba Ruba) tribe mostly live in Dongshin Village in Beinan Township. They traditionally built their homes with thin rocks, and long wooden carvings are their signature artifacts. In the past, the Rukai culture included a nobility class and a rigorous social hierarchy. With the passage of time, however, this class system has worn down and become less apparent within Rukai society.


Paiwan tribe Paiwan tribe

The Paiwan tribe is the third largest aboriginal tribe living in Taitung. Most of tribe members live on Taiwan's southern tip, on the edges of Dawushan. Since the sun "rises" over Taitung County and "sets" over Pingtung County, the Paiwan language refers to people who live in the Taitung as the "Sunrise Ethnic Group" and people who live in Dawushan as the "Sunset Ethnic Group". The Paiwan tribe has had a lot of interaction with other aboriginal tribes and the Han Chinese, which have strongly influenced their culture.


Yami (Tao) Yami (Tao)

People of Yami, or Tao, tribe live on Lanyu Island. There are somewhat isolationist and work hard to preserve their long-standing culture. Their traditional clothing includes a simple undergarment resembling a loincloth, a striped vest and their famed silver helmets. The tribe is also historically famous as boat builders, constructing vessels which resemble long canoes and can fit up to 10 people. These were used for travel and their livelihood--catching flying fish. Almost every aspect of traditional Yami culture--from religion to banking--revolves around the flying fish.


Karalan tribe Karalan tribe

People of the Karalan tribe mostly live in Changbin's Jhangyuan village. The tribe has the smallest number of people among Aborigines in Taitung and Taiwan at large. The most valuable tradition carried on by these people, and perhaps the greatest point of pride, is their daily, lifelong commitment to preserving the Karalan culture. Due to geographical disadvantages, it's difficult for all Karalan people to gather at the same time and place. After a long history of assimilation into the Han Chinese culture, they are now seeking to re-authenticate their original culture and once again resume their aboriginal identity.


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