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Indigenous Ceremonies

Indigenous CeremoniesFrom:Tourism Bureau, Republic of China(Taiwan)Author:吳志學

The mysterious customs and traditions of the indigenous tribes, Taiwan's indigenous people, such as the Harvest Festival (Smatto), the Worship of Hunting (Mabuasu), spiritual rituals, totemism, and snake worship, give an extra dimension to Taiwan's culture. The indigenous tribes of Taiwan form the most northern branch of the Austronesia language group, and ethnically belong to the Malay race. Most indigenous tribes have retreated into the mountains; but although many are faced with assimilation, still some 14 different tribes that have their own languages, traditions, and tribal structure can be distinguished: the Amis, the Atayal, the Paiwan, the Bunun, the Puyuma, the Rukai, the Tsou, the Saisiyat, Yami, the Thao, the Kavalan, the Truku, the Sakizaya, and the Sediq.

 

Mayasvi Ceremony (Tsou)

The Mayasvi is the holiest of all the ceremonies of the Tsou tribe. In the early years, it was held before a battle or hunt. Today, it is held annually in Februarys and is alternately organized by the communities of Dabang and Tefuye in Chiayi County. The ceremony is held at the tribal gathering place for men (Kupah). The tribe's war ceremony includes the rites of triumph, head rites, rites for the heads of the enemies, and welcoming rites for the gods.

The Ear-shooting Festival (Bunun)

The Ear-shooting Festival is the most important celebration of the Bunun people. Held from the end of the April to the beginning of the May, the celebration is divided into sowing rites, hunting rites, and ear-shooting; pig roasting, apportioning the meat, and storing the meat; work celebrations, witch inductions, and other major activities.

The traditional ear-shooting ceremony starts well before the celebration itself when the young men of the tribe go into the mountains and hunt. Then they cut off the ears of their kills, sticking the ears on a pole or a tree branch for the village men to shoot with arrows. Little children, accompanied by their fathers and older brothers, also practice shooting arrows, hoping that this will enable them to become good hunters.

New Year Ritual (Puyuma)

The "Monkey Ceremony" and the "Hunting Ceremony" are together referred to as the annual ritual of the Puyuma tribe.

The Puyuma were traditionally the most warlike of Taiwan's indigenous peoples. Every year toward the end of Decembers, the tribe holds a Monkey Ceremony. Considered the most unique of the Puyuma rites, the Monkey Ceremony is a rite of passage that marks the entry of tribal boys into adulthood. Many call it the Monkey Piercing Ceremony as young men of the tribe go through a series of strict trials, the most important of which is the piercing of a monkey with a bamboo staff. This is thought to build courage and cooperation among the young people. Participants have to complete four levels of trials, after which they are allowed to take part in the hunting ceremony. This requires a young boy to be able to hunt down a wild animal within five days. After this, the young boy is considered a man eligible for marriage.

Flying Fish Festival (Tao)

The presence of the Tao tribe is closely intertwined with the Flying Fish Festival. Each year the flying fishes come with the Kuroshio Current from January to June, and this brings a rich harvest of fish for the Tao tribe living on the Orchid Island. That is why the tribe's people believe that these fish are gifts from the gods, and why they treasure this natural resource. Some of the tribe's social norms and taboos are also closely associated with the coming and going of the flying fish.

The Flying Fish Festival is a fishing ceremony held sometime beginning in the second or third month of the lunar calendar, and it runs for approximately four months. The festival is divided into different parts including the blessing of the boats, praying for a bountiful catch, summoning the fish, first fishing night ceremony, fish storing ceremony, and fishing cessation ceremony. The men of the tribe wear loincloths, silver helmets, and gold strips, and face the sea to pray for a bountiful catch. Participation is restricted to men.

Amis Harvest Festival (Amis)

The Harvest Festival is the largest a festival of the Amis tribe. Held annually during Julys and Augusts, the festival has three stages, including welcoming the spirits, feasting the spirits, and sending the spirits off. In modern times, the ceremony has been shortened and the religious ceremonies simplified. Several activities have been added, including a race, tug-of-war and arrow shooting competition. The festivities, once limited to tribal participation, are now open to the general public.

* Data Source by Tourism BUREAU, 更多旅遊訊息在http://taiwan.net.tw *
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