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Our straps below are made from nylon straps with the tribal designs sown onto them. Guitar Strap - Polypro(Nylon) Adjustable (Acoustic Electric etc)

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-Buy 2 or more you get 10% discount
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US$ 5-00 (NT$150) ea



Here is a good site for Taiwan Triball photographs: http://thetaiwanphotographer.com


The web site of Council of Indigenous Peoples, Executive Yuan.


History of the tribal peoples http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiwanese_aborigines

See also: Prehistory of Taiwan and History of Taiwan

A Plains Tribe Aborigine child and woman
Taiwanese aborigines are Austronesian peoples, with linguistic and genetic ties to other Austronesian ethnic groups, such as peoples of the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Madagascar and Oceania (Hill et al. 2007; Bird, Hope & Taylor 2004). Chipped-pebble tools dating from perhaps as early as 15,000 years ago suggest that the initial human inhabitants of Taiwan were Paleolithic cultures of the Pleistocene era. These people survived by eating marine life. Archaeological evidence points to an abrupt change to the Neolithic era around 6,000 years ago, with the advent of agriculture, domestic animals, polished stone adzes and pottery. The stone adzes were mass-produced on Penghu and nearby islands, from the volcanic rock found there. This suggests heavy sea traffic took place between these islands and Taiwan at this time (Rolett, Jiao & Lin 2002:307¡V8; 313).

Recorded history of the aborigines on Taiwan began around the 17th century, and has often been dominated by the views and policies of foreign powers and non-aborigines. Beginning with the arrival of Dutch merchants in 1624, the traditional lands of the aborigines have been successively colonized by Dutch, Spanish, Han (from both the Ming and Qing dynasties), Japanese, and Taiwanese (the Chinese Nationalist government, or Kuomintang) rulers. Each of these successive "civilizing" cultural centers participated in violent conflict and peaceful economic interaction with both the Plains and Mountain tribal groups. To varying degrees, they influenced or transformed the culture and language of the indigenous peoples.

Four centuries of non-indigenous rule can be viewed through several changing periods of governing power and shifting official policy toward aborigines. From the 17th century until the early 20th, the impact of the foreign settlers¡Xthe Dutch, Spanish and Han¡Xwas more extensive on the Plains tribes. The latter were far more geographically accessible, and thus had more dealings with the foreign powers. By the beginning of the 20th century, the Plains tribes had largely been assimilated into contemporary Taiwanese culture as a result of European and Han colonial rule. Until the latter half of the Japanese colonial era the Mountain tribes were not entirely governed by any non-tribal polity. However, the mid-1930s marked a shift in the intercultural dynamic, as the Japanese began to play a far more dominant role in the culture of the Highland groups. This increased degree of control over the Mountain tribes continued during Kuomintang rule. Within these two broad eras, there were many differences in the individual and regional impact of the colonizers and their "civilizing projects". At times the foreign powers were accepted readily, as some tribes adopted foreign clothing styles and cultural practices (Harrison 2003), and engaged in cooperative trade in goods such as camphor, deer hides, sugar, tea and rice (Gold 1986:24¡V8). At numerous other times changes from the outside world were forcibly imposed.

Much of the historical information regarding Taiwan's aborigines was collected by these regimes in the form of administrative reports and gazettes as part of greater "civilizing" projects. The collection of information aided in the consolidation of administrative control.

Plains aboriginals

The Plains aborigines mainly lived in stationary village sites surrounded by defensive walls of bamboo. The village sites in southern Taiwan were more populated than other locations. Some villages supported a population of more than 1,500 people, surrounded by smaller satellite villages (Kang 2003:111¡V17). Siraya villages were constructed of dwellings made of thatch and bamboo, raised 2 m from the ground on stilts, with each household having a barn for livestock. A watchtower was located in the village to look out for headhunting parties from the Highland tribes. The concept of property was often communal, with a series of conceptualized concentric rings around each village. The innermost ring was used for gardens and orchards that followed a fallowing cycle around the ring. The second ring was used to cultivate plants and natural fibers for the exclusive use of the tribe. The third ring was for exclusive hunting and deer fields for tribal use. The plains people hunted herds of spotted Formosan Sika Deer, Formosan Sambar Deer, and Reeves's muntjac as well as conducting light millet farming. Sugar and rice were grown as well, but mostly for use in preparing wine (Shepherd 1993:29¡V34).

Many of the Plains peoples were matrilineal/matrifocal societies. Men married into a woman's family after a courtship period during which the woman was free to reject as many men as she wished before marriage. In the age-grade communities, couples entered into marriage in their mid-30s when a man would no longer be required to perform military service or hunt heads on the battle-field. In the matriarchal system of the Siraya, it was also necessary for couples to abstain from marriage until their mid-thirties, when the bride's father would be in his declining years and would not pose a challenge to the new male member of the household. It was not until the arrival of the Dutch Reformed Church in the 17th century, that the marriage and child-birth taboos were abolished. There is some indication that many of the younger members of Sirayan society embraced the Dutch marriage customs as a means to circumvent the age-grade system in a push for greater village power (Shepherd 1995:61¡V5). Almost all indigenous peoples in Taiwan have traditionally had a custom of sexual division of labor. Women did the sewing, cooking and farming, while the men hunted and prepared for military activity and securing enemy heads in headhunting raids, which was a common practice in early Taiwan. Women were also often found in the office of priestess or medium to the gods.

For centuries, Taiwan's aboriginal peoples experienced economic competition and military conflict with a series of colonizing peoples. Centralized government policies designed to foster language shift and cultural assimilation, as well as continued contact with the colonizers through trade, intermarriage and other dispassionate intercultural processes, have resulted in varying degrees of language death and loss of original cultural identity. For example, of the approximately 26 known languages of the Taiwanese aborigines (collectively referred to as the Formosan languages), at least ten are extinct, five are moribund (Zeitoun & Yu 2005:167) and several are to some degree endangered. These languages are of unique historical significance, since most historical linguists consider Taiwan to be the original homeland of the Austronesian language family (Blust 1999).

European period (1623¡V1662)

Under the Dutch Rule

Main article: Taiwan under Dutch rule

The opening paragraphs of the Gospel of Matthew in bilingual parallel format, from the first half of the 17th century, in the Dutch and Sinckan languages. This orthography is a predecessor of the Sinckan writing (·s´ä¤å®Ñ), a kind of land contract written by Plain aborigines (¥­®H±Ú) of the Xingang Tribe (·s´äªÀ), Taiwan, between later half of 17 century and first half of 19 century.
During the European period (1623¡V1662) soldiers and traders representing the Dutch East India Company maintained a colony in southwestern Taiwan (1624¡V1662) near present-day Tainan City. This established an Asian base for triangular trade between the company, the Qing Dynasty and Japan, with the hope of interrupting Portuguese and Spanish trading alliances. The Spanish also maintained a colony in northern Taiwan (1626¡V1642) in present-day Keelung. However, Spanish influence wavered almost from the beginning, so that by the late 1630s they had already withdrawn most of their troops (Andrade 2005:296 2n). After they were driven out of Taiwan by a combined Dutch and aboriginal force in 1642, the Spanish "had little effect on Taiwan's history" (Gold 1986:10¡V11). Dutch influence was far more significant: expanding to the southwest and north of the island, they set up a tax system and established schools and churches in many villages.

When the Dutch arrived in 1624 at Tayouan (Anping) Harbor, Siraya-speaking representatives from nearby Saccam village soon appeared at the Dutch stockade to barter and trade; an overture which was readily welcomed by the Dutch. The Sirayan villages were, however, divided into warring factions: the village of Sinckan (Sinshih) was at war with Mattau (Madou) and its ally Baccluan, while the village of Soulang maintained uneasy neutrality. In 1629 a Dutch expeditionary force searching for Han pirates, was massacred by warriors from Mattau, and the victory inspired other villages to rebel (Shepherd 1995:52¡V3). In 1635, with reinforcements having arrived from Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia), the Dutch subjugated and burned Mattau. Since Mattau was the most powerful village in the area, the victory brought a spate of peace offerings from other nearby villages, many of which were outside the Siraya area. This was the beginning of Dutch consolidation over large parts of Taiwan, which brought an end to centuries of inter-village warfare (Blusse & Everts 2000:11¡V20). The new period of peace allowed the Dutch to construct schools and churches aimed to acculturate and convert the indigenous population (Campbell 1915:240; Shepherd 1995:66). Dutch schools taught a romanized script (Sinckan writing), which transcribed the Siraya language. This script maintained occasional use through the 18th century (Shepherd 1995:66¡V8). Today only fragments survive, in documents and stone stele markers. The schools also served to maintain alliances and open aboriginal areas for Dutch enterprise and commerce.

The Dutch soon found trade in deerskins and venison in the East Asian market to be a lucrative endeavor (Shepherd 1993:451 19n), and recruited Plains aborigines to procure the hides. The deer trade attracted the first Han traders to aboriginal villages, but as early as 1642 the demand for deer greatly diminished the deer stocks. This drop significantly reduced the prosperity of aboriginal tribes (Andrade 2005:303), forcing many aborigines to take up farming to counter the economic impact of losing their most vital food source.

As the Dutch began subjugating aboriginal villages in the south and west of Taiwan, increasing numbers of Han immigrants looked to exploit areas that were fertile and rich in game. The Dutch initially encouraged this, since the Han were skilled in agriculture and large-scale hunting. Several Han took up residence in Siraya villages. The Dutch used Han agents to collect taxes, hunting license fees and other income. This set up a society in which "many of the colonists were Han Chinese but the military and the administrative structures were Dutch" (Andrade 2005:298). Despite this, local alliances transcended ethnicity during the Dutch period. For example, the Guo Huaiyi Rebellion in 1652, a Han farmers' uprising, was defeated by an alliance of 120 Dutch musketeers with the aid of Han loyalists and 600 aboriginal warriors (Shepherd 1993:90).

The Dutch period ended in 1662 when Ming loyalist forces of Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga) drove out the Dutch and established the short-lived Zheng family kingdom on Taiwan. The Zhengs brought 70,000 soldiers to Taiwan and immediately began clearing large tracts of land to support its forces. Despite the preoccupation with fighting the Qing, the Zheng family was concerned with aboriginal welfare on Taiwan. The Zhengs built alliances, collected taxes and erected aboriginal schools, where Taiwan's aborigines were first introduced to the Confucian Classics and Chinese writing (Shepherd 1993:92¡V103). However, the impact of the Dutch was deeply ingrained in aboriginal society. In the 19th and 20th centuries, European explorers wrote of being welcomed as kin by the aborigines who thought they were the Dutch, who had promised to return (Pickering 1898:116¡V18).

Qing rule (1683¡V1895)

This is a photograph of an aboriginal hunting party with their Formosan Mountain Dog in Ba?k-sa, by John Thomson, 1871: "A Native Hunting Party Baksa Formosa 1871" ¤ì¬]­ì¦í¥Áªº¬¼Ây²½¨å.
After the Qing government defeated the Ming loyalist forces maintained by the Zheng family in 1683, parts of Taiwan became increasingly integrated into the Qing Empire (Teng 2004:35¡V60). Qing forces ruled areas of Taiwan's highly populated western plain for nearly two centuries, until 1895. This era was characterized by a marked increase in the number of Han Chinese on Taiwan, continued social unrest, the piecemeal transfer (by various means) of large amounts of land from the aborigines to the Han, and the nearly complete acculturation of the Western Plains aborigines to Taiwanese Han customs.

During the Qing Dynasty's two-century rule over Taiwan, the population of Han on the island increased dramatically. However, it is not clear to what extent this was due to an influx of Han settlers, who were predominantly displaced young men from Zhangzhou and Quanzhou in Fujian province (Tsao 1999:331) or from a variety of other factors, including: frequent intermarriage between Han and aborigines, the replacement of aboriginal marriage and abortion taboos, and the widespread adoption of the Han agricultural lifestyle due to the depletion of traditional game stocks, which may have led to increased birth rates and population growth. Moreover, the acculturation of aborigines in increased numbers may have intensified the perception of a swell in the number of Han.

Reports from American envoys and others suggest that Taiwanese aboriginals under Qing rule were treated extremely harshly. Presbyterian missionary George Leslie Mackay in From far Formosa (1896) reported that "if a savage is killed inland, the heart is eaten, flesh taken off in strips, and bones boiled to a jelly and preserved as a specific for malarial fever" (Mackay 1896:276). American consul James W. Davidson described in The Island of Formosa (1903) how the Han Chinese in Taiwan ate and traded in their aboriginal victims' flesh (Davidson 1903:255), a practice also mentioned by Owen Rutter in Through Formosa (1923), whose account bears some similarities to Davidson's (Rutter 1923:224¡V25). Sangren, in History and Magical Power in a Chinese Community (1987) mentions Davidson's account, adding that elderly Ta-ch'i informants had corroborated his claims (Sangren 1987:223).

The Qing government officially sanctioned controlled Han settlement, but sought to manage tensions between the various regional and ethnic groups. Therefore it often recognized the Plains tribes' claims to deer fields and traditional territory (Knapp 1980:55¡V68; Shepherd 1993:14¡V20). The Qing authorities hoped to turn the Plains tribes into loyal subjects, and adopted the head and corvee taxes on the aborigines, which made the Plains aborigines directly responsible for payment to the government yamen. The attention paid by the Qing authorities to aboriginal land rights was part of a larger administrative goal to maintain a level of peace on the turbulent Taiwan frontier, which was often marred by ethnic and regional conflict.[4] The frequency of rebellions, riots, and civil strife in Qing Dynasty Taiwan is often encapsulated in the saying "every three years an uprising; every five years a rebellion" (Kerr 1965:4). Aboriginal participation in a number of major revolts during the Qing era, including the Taokas-led Ta-Chia-hsi revolt of 1731¡V1732, ensured the Plains tribes would remain an important factor in crafting Qing frontier policy until the end of Qing rule in 1895 (Shepherd 1993:128¡V29).

The struggle over land resources was one source of conflict. Large areas of the western plain were subject to large land rents called Huan Da Zu (µf¤j¯²¡Xliterally, "Barbarian Big Rent"), a category which remained until the period of Japanese colonization. The large tracts of deer field, guaranteed by the Qing, were owned by the tribes and their individual members. The tribes would commonly offer Han farmers a permanent patent for use, while maintaining ownership (skeleton) of the subsoil (¥Ð°©), which was called "two lords to a field" (¤@¥Ð¨â¥D). The Plains tribes were often cheated out of land or pressured to sell at unfavorable rates. Some disaffected subgroups moved to central or eastern Taiwan, but most remained in their ancestral locations and acculturated or assimilated into Han society (Chen 1997).

Migration to highlands

One popular narrative holds that all of the Gaoshan tribes were originally Plains tribes, which fled to the mountains under pressure from Han encroachment. This strong version of the "migration" theory has been largely discounted by contemporary research as the Gaoshan people demonstrate a physiology, material cultures and customs that have been adapted for life at higher elevations. Linguistic, archaeological, and recorded anecdotal evidence also suggests there has been island-wide migration of indigenous peoples for over 3,000 years.[5]

Small sub-groups of Plains aborigines may have occasionally fled to the mountains, foothills or eastern plain to escape hostile groups of Han or other aborigines (see Tsuchida & Yamada 1991:1¡V10; Li 2001). The "displacement scenario" is more likely rooted in the older customs of many Plains groups to withdraw into the foothills during headhunting season or when threatened by a neighboring village as observed by the Dutch during their punitive campaign of Mattou in 1636 when the bulk of the village retreated to Tevoraan (Blusse & Everts 2000:11¡V12; Shepherd 1993:1¡V6; Shepherd 1995:66¡V72). The "displacement scenario" may also stem from the inland migrations of Plains aborigine subgroups, who were displaced by either Han or other Plains aborigines and chose to move to the Iilan plain in 1804, the Puli basin in 1823 and another Puli migration in 1875. Each migration consisted of a number of families and totaled hundreds of people, not entire tribes (Shepherd 1993:391¡V95; Pan 2002:36¡V7). There are also recorded oral histories that recall some Plains aborigines were sometimes captured and killed by Highlands tribes while relocating through the mountains (Yeh 2003). However, as Shepherd (1993) explained in detail, documented evidence shows that the majority of Plains people remained on the plains, intermarried Hakka and Hoklo immigrants from Fujian and Guangdong, and adopted a Han identity, where they remain today.

Highland tribes

Bunun mother and child in sling in Lona Village, Taiwan
Imperial Chinese and European societies had little contact with the Highland aborigines until expeditions to the region by European and American explorers and missionaries commenced in the 19th and early 20th centuries (Campbell 1915; Mackay 1896). The lack of data before this was primarily the result of a Qing quarantine on the region to the east of the "earth oxen" (¤g¤û) border, which ran along the eastern edge of the western plain. Han contact with the mountain tribes was usually associated with the enterprise of gathering and extracting camphor from Camphor Laurel trees (Cinnamomum camphora), native to the island and in particular the mountainous areas. The production and shipment of camphor (used in herbal medicines and mothballs) was then a significant industry on the island, lasting up to and including the period of Japanese rule (Pickering 1898:220¡V24.). These early encounters often involved headhunting parties from the Highland tribes, who sought out and raided unprotected Han forest workers. Together with traditional Han concepts of Taiwanese behavior, these raiding incidents helped to promote the Qing-era popular image of the "violent" aborigine (Teng 2004:230¡V36).

Plains aborigines were often employed and dispatched as interpreters to assist in the trade of goods between Han merchants and Highlands aborigines. The aborigines traded cloth, pelts and meat for iron and matchlock rifles. Iron was a necessary material for the fabrication of hunting knives¡Xlong, curved sabers that were generally used as a forest tool. These blades became notorious among Han settlers, given their alternative use to decapitate Highland tribal enemies in customary headhunting expeditions.


See also: Wu Feng Legend

The Highland tribes were renowned for their skill in headhunting, which was a symbol of bravery and valor (Hsu 1991:29¡V36). Almost every tribe except the Yami (Tao) practiced headhunting. Once the victims had been dispatched the heads were taken then boiled and left to dry, often hanging from trees or shelves constructed for the purpose. A party returning with a head was cause for celebration, as it would bring good luck. The Bunun people would often take prisoners and inscribe prayers or messages to their dead on arrows, then shoot their prisoner with the hope their prayers would be carried to the dead. Han settlers were often the victims of headhunting raids as they were considered by the aborigines to be liars and enemies. A headhunting raid would often strike at workers in the fields, or employ the ruse of setting a dwelling alight and then decapitating the inhabitants as they fled the burning structure. It was also customary to later raise the victim's surviving children as full members of the tribe. Often the heads themselves were ceremonially ¡¥invited' to join the tribe as members, where they were supposed to watch over the tribe and keep them safe. The indigenous inhabitants of Taiwan accepted the convention and practice of headhunting as one of the calculated risks of tribal life. The last groups to practice headhunting were the Paiwan, Bunun, and Atayal groups (Montgomery-McGovern 1922). Japanese rule ended the practice by 1930, but some elder Taiwanese can recall the practice (Yeh 2003).









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