The Rukai (Drekay) society is characterized by a social class system formed upon a well-defined division of labor and blended with marriage, politics, religion, worshipping, and art. With the lily as the “symbolizing flower” for purity, bravery, courage, and honor, the right to wear lily ornaments is a core value of the Rukai culture. Foxtail millet is its principal economic crop, leading to the irreplaceable millet harvest festival. Currently, the Rukai population is about 13,465 people (as January 2020).
The Tsou (Cou) people settled in elevated Alishan Mountain in central Taiwan. Important ceremonies include the Homeyaya (Millet Harvest Festival) to show appreciations to the Gods and the Mayasvi (Triumph Festival) to demonstrate war merits. Currently, the Tsou population is 6,702 people (as of January 2020).
Amis are a large community-based indigenous ethnic group with a large population. They have magnificent rituals, with the annual harvest being the most representative. Currently, the Amis population is about 213,514 people (as of January 2020).
Distributed on both sides of the Central Mountain Range at an elevation of 500-1,500m, Bunun people are the ethnic group living at the highest elevation among all Taiwan’s indigenous peoples. Forming a society with patriarchic families, the Bunun population has expanded gradually and distributed widely across Taiwan due to historical migration. Based on the spirit (hanitu) concept, they believe that personal ability, diseases, and mishaps are related to hanitu. The Ear Shooting Festival (malahodaigian) is the most representative ritual, and Prayer of Millet Harvest (pasibutbut) is internationally renowned. Currently, the Bunun population is about 59,536 people (by Januray 2020), mainly distributed in Ren’ai and Xinyi townships of Nantou County; Zhuoxi and Wanrong townships of Hualien Country; Yanping and Haiduan townships in Taitung County; and Taoyuan and Namaxia districts in Kaohsiung City. Urban migration has also been popular in recent years.
Weaving and face tattoos are distinctive to the Atayal who follow the ancestral preaching (gaga) and consider the ancestral spirit ceremony the most important ritual. With the rise of indigenous awareness and indigenous culture revitalization in recent years, the Truku and Sediq ethnic group branches of the Atayal declared independence from the Atayal in 2004 and 2008 respectively. Currently, the Atayal population is about 92,084 people (as of Januray 2020).
The Paiwan (Payuan) link politics, marriage, religion, and art with the family names, clans and a rigid social hierarchy. After the millet harvest, they hold the “Millet Harvest Thanksgiving Ritual”. The Vuculj subgroup holds the Maleveq Ritual every five years to welcome the ancestral spirits to visit their descendants. It is also called the “Human-Deity Alliance Ritual”. Today, the Paiwan has a population of around 102,730 people (as of January 2020).
As of May 2014, the Kanakanavu People number approximately 520 and are mostly concentrated in Namasia District (那瑪夏區) of Kaohsiung City (高雄市) along both banks of Nanzixian River (楠梓仙溪). Today, most Kanakanavu People live in the two villages of Manga and Takanua in Namasia District (formerly Sanmin Township), Kaohsiung City. According to one version of a Kanakanavu legend, a few hundred years ago, a young man by the name of Namasia（「那瑪夏」）happened to see a giant swamp eel lock the flows of river and thus endanger his tribe and his people. He therefore hurried back to the tribe to inform his people. Due to this incident, Namasia suffered from panic attacks to such a degree that he died a few days after the incident; whereas, at the same time, the giant swamp eel was killed as a result of the joint effort of his people and boars. Soon afterwards, today's Nanzixian River (楠梓仙溪) was then named in honor of the young man as "Namasia" （「那瑪夏」）. The Kanakanavu society is patrilineal. During important festivals, the Kanakanavu People perform “Kanaira” or "Appreciation for Harvest Ceremony" (「米貢祭」) to express gratitude for having millet as their daily food. In the same vein, they also hold the “River Ceremony” (「河祭」) to express gratitude for having enjoyed the resources of the Nanzixian River (楠梓仙溪).
The Hla’alua People number approximately 400 and are mostly distributed in the villages of Gaojhong (高中里) and Taoyuan (桃源里) in Taoyuan District, Kaohsiung City (高雄市), as well as the village of Maya (瑪雅里) in Namasia District (那瑪夏區), Kaohsiung City (高雄市) . There were four (4) main sub-tribal systems or “she” (社) in the Hla’alua Tribe, namely, paiciana she (排剪社), vilanganu she (美壠社), talicia she (塔蠟社), and hlihlara she (雁爾社). All these local community members self-identify themselves as the Hla’alua, whereas the origin of the name “Hla’alua” is still unknown. According to one version of a Hla’alua legend, the original dwelling place of Hla’alua People used to be in the eastern “hlasunga” where they cohabited with people of small stature. Since time immemorial, these hobbits-like people has regarded “takiaru " -- (「聖貝」)“Sacred Shell” (referring to those holy spirits and sacred presence of the ancestors hiding themselves inside the shell) -- as the abode of their “Taizu” (太祖) or “The Ultimate, Original Ancestor” (「貝神」) “Shell God; Shell Deity” -- in a collective sense, referring to those holy souls and sacred presence of the ancestors hiding themselves inside the shell. For this reason, in olden time, the Hla’alua People religiously performed large-scale annual ceremonies in honor of the “Shell God” to ask for blessings upon their dwelling abodes, while praying for abundant harvests of field crops and fresh organic produce as well as accelerated multiplying of their tribal people. Upon leaving their habitual ancestral dwelling and parting with those hobbits-like people, as a farewell gift, the “Hobbits” presented the Hla’alua with a “takiaru Urn” (「甕聖貝」) -- referring to those holy souls and sacred presence of the ancestors hiding themselves inside the Urn -- whence comes the “miatungusu” or “takiaru Ceremony” (「聖貝祭」). The highest point of such a “Sacred Shell” Rite is reached when the “takiaru " (「聖貝」) is completely soaked in wine for all participants to carefully observe the tone and color of the “takiaru ": A “Sacred Shell” turning crimson red denotes a heavily and happily drunk “Taizu” (太祖), which signifies complete success of the “miatungusu” thus performed.
Although the Pinuyumayan people settled in the plains area with various ethnic communities and began contacts with outsider from a long time ago, they have maintained their traditions, culture, and lifestyle. They have a rigid age stratification organization and assembly hall system. Pinuyumayan witches are famous among ethnic groups for their powerful magic. Existing Pinuyumayan Rituals include the “Mugamut (Female Mowing Completion Ritual)”, “Masarut (Millet Harvest Ritual, Sea Ritual)”, “Vasivas (Monkey Hunting Ritual)”, and “Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual)”, where the “Mangayau (Annual Ritual)” is the largest ritual. Currently, the Pinuyumayan population is about 14,517 (as of January 2020).
The population of Sediq is about 10,000. They share unique customs and traditional rituals. The viewpoint of adoring Utux has extended to conscientious living rules called gaya/waya and has developed different culture, for example: tattoo, hunting, weaving, music, language, songs and dance. Sisin is seen as a sacred bird. When Sediq people go hunting or making marriage proposal, they make decisions according to the sound that Sisin bird makes.
By Taiwan Aboriginal Culture Park © All Rights Reserved. The Sakizaya tribe live at Chilai plain of Hualien. The population of Sakizaya is about 335. Fishing and hunting are traditional way of life. The social organization is based mainly on the matrilineal system. When marrying into the wife’s family, the male must move into the wife’s household residence. “Miamaivaki” is a ritual that the elders give regards to the young people for becoming adults.
(Truku Distribution) The Truku tribe has about 24,000 people. Three to four hundred years ago, the Truku ancestors set off from Nantou County, conquered the natural obstacles and climbed over Mount Chilai in the Central Mountain Range to migrate along the Liwu River Valley to the east. For hundreds of years, Truku people have developed their own special culture. They fought against Japanese Army for a long time, and worked very hard to build up their communities for the future generation. Truku people are good at hunting, weaving, and knitting. They still keep their traditional techniques of knife-making and shaman sorcery up to now. Ceremony for worship of ancestor spirit is held every year. By Taiwan Aboriginal Culture Park © All Rights Reserved.
(Kavalan Distribution) In the past, the Kavalan tribe lived in Yilan. Nowadays they are in Hualien and Taitung with a total of over 1,100 people. Kavalan believe that each creature has its own spirit, therefore the tribe develops its own special ritual offering ceremony and the healing ceremony. During the healing ceremony, the female shaman presents wine to worship gods, and then she prays to the ancestors' spirits to ask for healing the illness. During the ritual healing ceremony, the female shaman would sing special healing song. By Shieh Li-Jong © All Rights Reserved.
(Thao Distribution) The Thao tribe lives in Yuchih Township and Shueili Township in Nantou County with a total of about 648 people. The tribe’s legend said that their ancestors found Sun Moon Lake while they were chasing a white deer. Therefore, they moved there and settled down. The Thao tribe has a patriarchal society. They were deeply influenced by the Han culture, yet they still kept their cultural elements alive. “Ulalaluan”, the basket containing the ancestor spirit is hung in the corner wall of each household. This is not seen in other indigenous tribes of Taiwan. The tribal chief is the main decision maker regarding ceremony rituals of the community and also presides over social affairs. The position is usually inherited by the eldest son. The most representative is the Thao wooden pestle rhythm music and singing. By Jean Shyy-Lang © All Rights Reserved.
(Yami Distribution) The Yami tribe is located in the offshore Orchid Island of Taitung. It is the only tribe of oceanic culture in Taiwan. They have a population of about 3,500, spread over six villages on the island. Due to their isolated living environment, their culture is still kept relatively intact. Yami tribe has no leadership system. When disputes occur, the clan families and relatives are called upon to negotiate a settlement. The social affairs are administered by the male heads of the household, and by the community’s fishing groups. The creations of art and culture are abundant, such as the wood carving boats, silvery utensils, pottery, and mud dolls. Traditional houses are built underground to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Tribal ceremonies are held according to the activities relating to capturing the flying fish. The flying fish is regarded as sacred. Hair dancing by Yami women is a special tribal performance, unique among Taiwan’s indigenous peoples. Men’s warrior dance is used to display the strength and beauty of the body. By Juang An-Hwa © All Rights Reserved.
(Saisiyat Distribution) Mostly live in WufongVillage, Hsinchu County, Nanjuang and Shrtan Villages of Miaoli County. The population is estimated at 5300. Their social organization is maintained predominately by patriarchal structure. Traditionally, each clan has its totems or symbols. In Chin Dynasty they changed their original totems into Chinese surnames, such as "Feng for Wind", "Ri for Sun" and" Xia for Summer" etc. The most important traditional activity is “Pas-taai”. Neighboring closely with Atayal, Saisiyat is greatly influenced by it in culture. By Juang An-Hwa © All Rights Reserved.