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Explore Taitung
Taitung County is home to seven indigenous ethnicities, including the Bunun, Paiwan, Rukai, Amis, Beinan, Yami, and Kavalan tribes. Each tribe has its own unique culture. The diversity in Taitung is unique to Taiwan as well as a rarity in the world. The high density and high diversity of Taitung’s indigenous population is an amazing resource.
TribeDescription
BununiconThe Heavenly Chorus:
The chorus of the Bunun is everywhere in Taitung, and not only during the Harvest Festival. Bunun singing is heard after a round of the best liquor and is present during every ritual. Although times have changed and the sound of the heavenly chorus is now only heard on special occasions, Western religion has preserved the traditional tunes of the chorus. Even children know how to make a harmonious chorus. I guess this is the talent God endowed onto the Bunun.
iconThere is no Chief - Society Centers Around the Family Elders:
Other than the annual Ear Shooting Festival, the Bunun's society works in units of extended family and the family elders are highly esteemed as the decision makers.
iconOrchestrated Musical Instruments:
The Bunun have preserved an array of traditional music instruments. They are played solo or in an orchestra.
iconMeaningful Attitude Towards Life:
The full moon means harvest and a crescent moon means disappearance (pest removal and grass cutting). Playing diabolo is a wish for millet to grow quickly. Swings mean millet will grow as high as the swing flies. The day a baby turns a month old is an all-day event. A celebration is held to bless and wish the baby a strong and lively childhood. The fruiting of wild pepper is a wish for a good harvest because pepper is spicy so birds won’t come close to the millet.
iconPersonification of Millet:
Millet has a soul and facial features. It moves around and has a father-son relationship. Therefore, millet is highly respected. Father Millet has five ears, watching over the growth of his millet son. Therefore, the Bunun pay Father Millet very high respect.
PaiwaniconInherited Social Rank:
The Paiwan are born into certain ranks. The chief's son will grow up and get his own land. The aristocracy or peasants have different land rights. However, it is possible for a Paiwan to move up to a higher rank through good performance in battle, hunting, carving, as well as through marriage.
iconThe Eldest Child Inherits Family Property. Gender Equality:
The eldest child of a family inherits all the property in a family with only a small portion distributed to the rest of the children. The eldest child has the right to allocate resources.
iconAncestor Worship:
Paiwan worship their ancestral spirits. This is revealed by large sculptures of ancestral spirits in their homes. Usually, the central pillar of a house is a holy place. Family treasures, such as clay pots, knives, and animal bones represent heroic deeds of the household patriarch. These are placed by the central pillar. A statue of a bride in a beautiful gown also sits in front of the central pillar.
iconGlamorous Decorative Arts:
Vivid colors and blossoming flowers are the best representations of the Paiwan. Women wear their specially designed patterns to show off their artistic talents. Their insistence to the uniqueness of their patterns shows confidence and pride towards their ethnicity.
iconSpecial Emphasis on Their Origins:
Whoever visits a chief is told of the family’s origin, such as the stories of the son of the sun, the offspring of the clay pot and the vipers. This is a way to show the importance of the individual or family. The origins of ordinary people and royalty are different according to their legends. This is the best proof of the hereditary system.
iconActive Creators:
The Paiwan are sure about how special their athletic and artistic talents are. There are many Paiwan dedicated to wood carving. Gulou Village of Laiyi Township has more than ten wood carvers, but only one has made it a profession. The Paiwan see the arts as part of life and passion. This is the difference between Paiwan and other indigenous groups. There are people studying the revival of glass bead and clay pot making as well as music. Their traditional aesthetic values have not weakened through time.
iconA Melting Pot of Other Cultures:
The Paiwan have absorbed different foreign cultures through time and internalized them into their own being. For example, the Paiwan have absorbed button design from the Han and turned it into a special feature of Paiwan culture. Recently, some artists are adapting the making of glass beads into their traditional arts and turning the art into a fashion.
RukaiiconBeautiful Clothing:
Rukai clothing is known for cross stitch and glass beads. Rukai totems are complex and glamorous, somewhat similar to the Paiwan, especially the tribes in Sandimen and Majia.
iconThe Sacred Lily:
Lily is the tribal flower of the Rukai. The Rukai respect lilies. Lilies are elevated to the spiritual plane and even influence social order and morals.
iconWorship of Vipers and Leopards:
Many Rukai legends are centered around vipers. The viper is the ancestor of the chief. It is the elder in the tribe. Nonetheless, the Rukai’s respect for vipers is not without fear. Villagers are forbidden to come into contact with vipers. The Rukai’s respect and worship of vipers is very similar to that of the Paiwan.
iconAttitude towards the Arts:
The Rukai's artistic expression shows itself through home decoration, costumes, songs, and dance. The arts are essential to the Rukai. Carvings, embroidery, weaving, and horticulture are activities in the traditional lives of the Rukai.
AmisiconStrict Social Structure According to Age:
Although the clubhouse system has disappeared, social structure according to age is still practiced in Amis villages. Younger people obey their elders. This is an important part of traditional life for the Amis.
iconCatchy Songs and Dance:
Friendly tunes, strong tempos and catchy rhythms are characteristic of Amis folk tunes. Almost all other indigenous ethnicities know how to sing one or two Amis songs.
iconBright Colors and Clothing:
From Hualien to Taitung, traditional Amis costumes emerged into three systems determined by region. However, there are variations found from village to village. Therefore, there is still no definitive theory about the development of Amis clothing.
BeinaniconSpartan Style Training.
iconExquisite Embroidery:
Cross stitch is characteristic of Beinan art, as well as their dance patterns.
iconGarlands:
Even though other tribes also wear garlands, the fancy style and meaning (coming-of-age for men) is unique.
iconPopularity of Shamanism:
In earlier times, shamanism was highly popular amongst the Beinan. Other ethnicities were terrified of Beinan witchcraft. Their shamanism is categorized into white and black witchcraft. White witchcraft heals people and black witchcraft harms people. Currently, there are still several shamans in the southern Beinan tribes. The southern king has more than 20 male and female shamans. They are in charge of rituals in the tribe and bestow blessings onto the people. Recently, there has even been one shaman who opened a business to carry out blessing rituals and fortune telling for people. Of course, the service is not limited to the Beinan. Quite a few Han Taiwanese are regular customers.
YamiiconFlying Fish Culture:
Catching flying fish is one of the major events in the life of a Yami. The Yami live around the flying fish season. This concept extends to the Amis belief of their view of the universe (legend has it that God in heaven also has flying fish in his home.)
iconThe Culture of Big Boats:
The Yami skill in sampan (a kind of boat) assembly and decoration is very unique. A fishing team is usually made up of family members. This activity brings together the family through the spirit of sharing.
iconThe Worldview of the Southern Islands:
Traditionally, the Yami's world included Taiwan, Green Island, and the Batan Islands. China did not exist.
iconThe Only Ethnicity that did not Have the Tradition of Headhunting:
The peace loving Yami put on their helmet and fought by throwing stones at each other until one person got hurt. After the battle, they each went home and the war ended.
KavalanThe Kavalan were the earliest settlers of the Lanyang Plains. They are one branch of Taiwan's plains indigenous people. Long ago, the Kavalan lived in the Lanyang Plains. At the end of the 18th century, Han Taiwanese began to migrate into the Lanyang Plains and forced the Kavalan to relocate into the east. Today, the Kavalan are mostly located in Yilan, Luodong, Suao, Fengbing Township (Hualien County), and Changbing Township (Taitung County).
MonthTownshipTribeFestivalPhone Number
AprilYanping TownshipMultipleHunting Festival0989-244938
MayHaiduan TownshipFull TribeHunting Festival089-931370
JulyBeinan TownshipFushan Village Fudafudak TribeHarvest Festival0917-573938
0933371795
Changbin TownshipKavalan TribeHarvest Festival0988-078507
0933-843933
Chenggong TownshipTorik TribeHarvest Festival089-841557
0952-002279
Taitung CitySiafulungay TribeHarvest Festival0921599747
0910548852
Chenggong TownshipMadang TribeHarvest Festival0939031502
0913562238
Chenggong TownshipFengnian TribeHarvest Festival0910478689
0932663255
Chenggong TownshipDakangle TribeHarvest Festival0937397583
0918520193