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Pingpu Peoples

The Pingpu Peoples is a branch of the Austronesian Linguistic Family spread from the Lanyang Plain, The Northeast Corner, The Northern Coast, Taipei Basin, and Western Plains to Tainan, Kaohsiung and Pingtung. Living by the sea, the Pingpu Peoples and the Austronesian Linguistic Family in other parts of Asia have been traveling with each other by boats. However, when Taiwan emerges on the world stage, it was the same reason of locating by the sea that it has to face the impact of political, economic, linguistic, cultural and other forces from a large number of people coming in outside of Taiwan. Therefore, since the 17th century, the Pingpu Peoples has been faced with the crisis of ethnic cultural identity as well as struggle, extinction, and preservation. The census of the Pingpu Peoples was first recorded in the household survey during Dutch Formosa Era, where the total number was between 40, 000 and 60, 000. According to several surveys conducted during Japanese occupation, the number was roughly between 40,000 and 60,000. Since the cancelation of the nationality column in household registration data, the population of the Pingpu Peoples had become difficult to estimate.

In spite of this, when the Japanese conducted various ethnographic surveys and studies in Taiwan in the early 20th century, they were still able to put forward scientific classification for the Pingpu Peoples based on geographical relationship between the groups, historical relationship of the origin of tribes and their migration to Taiwan, the social organization structures, and the similarities and differences of constitution and language.

Classification of Pingpu Peoples

The introduction of the concept of “ethnic group” and the classification of its practical operation were roughly formed by the investigators in the early days during Japanese occupation. After Taiwan’s secession in 1895, the colonial government spent a lot of efforts and resources on the investigation and study of the Austronesian Peoples in the fields of ethnology and physical anthropology in order to effectively govern Taiwan. Therefore, Kanori Ino andDennojou Awano were the first to follow the two categories of “Gaoshan” and “Peipo” during Qing’s rule, and nearly 20 ethnic groups were divided under them.

The classification of Pingpu Peoples can vary greatly among scholars. Generally speaking, it can be roughly divided into: Kavalan, Ketagalan, Taokas, Pazeh, Papora, Babuza, Hoanya, Siraya, and Makatau. A brief introduction is as follows: Kavalan mainly lived in Lanyang Plain before the 19th century. About 40 tribes, with Lanyang Creek as the boundary, scattered in the north and south of the stream about 5-10 meters above sea level on the low wet plain. The population during Dutch Formosa was about 10,000. When Han people moved in to Lanyang (1810), there were about 5,000. During the period of Dao Guang, Tongzhi and Guangxu, due to the great pressure of competition for survival, the group moved to Hualien to find a new place as well as to San Xing Township in Yilan.

The Ketagalan was the general collective name of three groups: the Basay, the Luilang the Kulon. Basay mainly referred to the Jinbaoli, Dajilong and Sandiao community in the north shore area; the Luilang mainly lived in Taipei Plain by Dahan Creek and Xindian Creek; The Kulon generally scattered in the Nankan Creek of Linkou Terrace and the upstream area of Dahan Creek to Taoyuan area.

Taokas refers to the indigenous people in Hsinchu, Miaoli and Taichung counties between Fengshan creek and Da-jia Creek; they were the three communities of Zhuqian, Houlongwu, and Pengshanba during Qing’s rule. The Pazeh was the most active ethnic group in the central region of during Qing’s rule. It was mainly composed of four communities: Yianli, Puzili, Alishi and Wuniulan, which were spread around the Fengyuan, starting from Dajia in the north, Tanzi in the south, Dongzhi in the east, and Dadu Mountain in the west, as well as the area between Da’an River and Dadu River.

Papora mainly included four communities, i.e. Dadu, Shuili, Shalu and Niuma. Geographically, they’re in the coastal plain to the north of Daidu Ceek, to the south of Qingshui Town, and to the west of Daidu Plain.

Babuza had Dongluo, Erlin, Meili, Banxian, Zizikeng, Ashu, Mazhilin, and Babusha, are mostly spread in the south of Dadu River and north of Chuoshui River.

Hoanya, spreading in the north from Wufeng, Taichung County, south to the north of Xinying, Tainan, could be divided into two branches of Lloa and Arikun, which were about 13 communities.

Siraya was generally divided into two groups: four communities of Siraya - the natives to Xingang, Damujiang, Xiaolong and Madou of Tainan Plain, and four communities of Dawulong - the natives to the west of Wushan Mountain in Tainan County, Toushe, Xiaoli, Mangzimang, Qieba of plain zone of Zengwen River. Makatau formerly spread in the vast plain from Gaoping Creek in Fengshan to the foot of Dawu Mountain, known as the “Fengshan Eight Communities” in the literatures during Qing’s rule.

3. Population and Distribution of Pingpu Peoples in the Early 20th Century In the early days of Japanese occupation, the Governor-General of Taiwan inherited the civil society categories used in the late Qing’s rule as well as the political and economic system - the Han People, Aboriginal Tribes and Savages. Based on the fact that Aboriginal Tribes were “Sinicized a hundred years ago” and most of them lived in ordinary administrative regions, they were incorporated into the local grassroots administrative space together with Han People and applied ordinary administrative law to become the so-called “imperial subjects”. During Qing’s rule, the status of “Aboriginal Tribes” mainly existed in the ethnic column for statistical analysis of the household registration system, rather than the implementation of the “Aboriginal Tribe and Savage Governance” policy.

After the first provisional household survey in 1905, the Governor-General of Taiwan had a detailed understanding of the households and the settlements of the Pingpu Peoples. Table 1 shows such in the general administrative region at that time.

The above data not only give us the population of Pingpu Peoples in the early 20th century, but also show their spatial distribution characteristics. After a hundred years of Han colonization, Kavalan People in Lanyang Plain still maintained their common and individual awareness of their identity; the force of Houlong Community in Miaoli County was clear. The Plains Indigenous groups in central Taiwan gathered in Puli. In the south, the Pingpu Peoples obviously gathered in the nearby mountain areas in the present day Tainan and Kaohsiung; Pingtung Plain was the most evenly spread area for them. Huadong area obviously retained a lot of vitality for absorbing the population in the back mountain. When the circumstances were investigated and sorted out, the “ancient mystery” which Kanori Ino also had to praise was finally resolved.