Hey, Let's Travel Around Taiwan: Day 2, Paiwan Aboriginal Town

January 6, 2020

The mountains acted as an amphitheater, swelling sounds of the music across Taiwan’s landscape. Me, along with my new running pal Luka, listed to the melodys come from all around while we took our morning run. I noticed the music was prerecorded as the track skipped onto the next, but the human behind the button kept going back. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Taiwan’s Paiwan Aborigional Town

We heard from a local foreigner that there is an aboriginal village around Manzhou (close to Kenting National Park) that is tucked into the green of the mountains. They live a very different life than the typical Taiwanese. They, like all the aboriginal people of Taiwan, have their own music, food, customs and beliefs. The call themselves Paiwan.

Johan and I stopped halfway to the village to take in some views from above. An old woman with slow short steps came out of her home. She looked at us and said “kus kus.” She reached her hand in a plastic bag, and continued to feed her chickens. Kus Kus?

Some Things to Know About the Paiwan Aboriginal People of Taiwan

    • The Paiwan typically live in the southern hills of Taiwan in Kaohsiung and Pingtung counties. They are known for their skill in wood and stone sculpture, as their art is regarded as the finest of all that produced by Taiwan’s indigenous peoples.
    • Status within the community is based on the ownership of land.
    • Their homes are made completely of concrete slabs.
    • The Paiwan are renowned for their two unique ceremonies, ‘The Masaru’, celebration to thank God for the past year’s harvest and ‘The Maleveq’, an elaborate tribal ceremony held every five years worshiping their ancestors gods. The Paiwan marriage ritual is another highlight of the culture; the celebration lasts two days. On the first night, the families and friends the couple sing and dance outside the home of the bride until dawn of the next day, on the wedding day the groom carries the bride on his back around the group while receiving blessings from the gods.
    • Paiwan music centers on the traditions the communication of respect to tribal gods and ancestors.
  • The Paiwan also create beautiful glazed beads and clay pots. The pots themselves are gendered (female, male, and transgendered) are decorated with designs such as hundred-step snakes, circles and human heads

Some Basic Info about Taiwan

Taiwan is an island located about 120 Km off the coast of China. The name Taiwan (which means terraced bay) was given to the island by its indigenous inhabitants four hundred years ago. Formosa is another name often used to refer to Taiwan. In the mid 1500’s, Portuguese sailors sailed around the island and, although making no attempt to colonize it, called it ‘Ilha Formosa (beautiful island). The people of Taiwan proudly call the island ‘baodao (treasure island.).

You can say, “shi bao dao” meaning ‘Taiwan is a Treasure’.

Gorgeous mountains, subtropical climate, delicious food, lively cities, exotic hot springs, diverse wildlife. Taiwan truly is a treasure.

Two thirds of the island is mountains, covered with both tropical and subtropical vegetation. Over 80% of the population live on the islands west cost while the rest are spread over the middle mountain ranges and rugged east coast. Aboriginal towns mostly reside on the Southern East Coast, but the peoples are heavily apart of communities all around Taiwan.