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Taiwan: How the Puyuma people started Year 2010

The Puyuma tribe is one of the indigenous groups in Taitung County along Taiwan’s East Coast. Nanwang, as the leading village in the tribe, holds the Monkey Ceremony and Hunting Rite in every December and starts the new year with the Annual Ritual.

In the evening before the Monkey Ceremony (12/19 in Year 2009), boys in the south group and north group met and challenged each other, and then they visited the families in the Nanwang Village to drive out the evil spirits.

Magulis took photos of this activity and explained:

每一位孩子必須帶著枯香蕉葉,傳說此枯葉配合團體的氣勢可以驅除霉氣。

Every boy must bring some dried banana leaves. In our traditions, the leaves with the group spirits can drive out the evil spirits.

After the boys ran into the living room of a family, they lied prone and yelled: Halabagai (we are here to drive out the evil spirits)!

When the boys finished their mission, they came back the Palakuwan (the traditional youth meeting hall) and enjoyed the desserts prepared by the families they helped drive out the evil spirits.

Magulis followed these boys until the ritual ended.

時間已經是半夜一點,領完糖果後活動結束讓小朋友回家,準備隔天早上的〝猴祭〞活動。

It was one o’clock in the morning. The boys went home after they took some candies. They would attend the ‘Monkey Ceremony’ in the morning after.

The video of this activity was taken by Paudull in 2005.

Taiwan culture portal reported,

The Monkey Ceremony is considered the most unique of the Puyuma Rites. It includes many “tests” including the killing of a monkey with a bamboo staff. Today, this tradition is still carried out, but only symbolically, with the use of toy monkeys, rather than real ones.

Paudull shared the video taken in the Monkey Ceremony.

In the video, after the boys stabbed the toy monkey, the elder boys hit the younger boys’ bottoms to teach them obedience. Then they sang the traditional song ‘Gudau’ together.

Between 27-30 of December, some men entered the mountain to perform the Hunting Rite. These hunters came back on 12/31 and were welcomed by the villagers.
Taiwan culture portal reported,

At the end of the Hunting Rites, the males are welcomed outside the village at an arch built from bamboo. The women crown the males of their family with a flower wreath and prepare their ceremonial clothing for them to change into.

In the evening, young villagers sang the traditional songs for each family to welcome the new year. Paudull shared the video taken in the carol:

In the morning on 1/1/2010, the elders visited the families who lost their family members in the past year and sang traditional songs for them, and then the villagers held the Annual Ritual in the Palakuwan. Paudull shared the video taken in the Annual Ritual:

Although most attendants in these ceremonies are male, female villagers also helped to prepare for the ceremonies. Taiwan culture portal said,

The Puyuma traditionally was a matrilineal society…Women were in charge of household affairs and the family property was passed from mother to daughter. In addition, women were responsible for overseeing traditional ceremonies and rites.

Hia Sani (Amanda) and Magulis took photos to show how the women in the village cut down the bamboos and made the clothes and flower wreaths for the ceremonies. Magulis said,

編織一條花環大約必須花上20分鐘的時間(熟練者). 編織花環的人是辛苦的, 被戴上花環的人是幸福的. 因為戴上的花環代表著親友獻上的”愛”

For an experienced person, a flower wreath takes 20 minutes to make. Making the flower wreaths is a hard job. The people who are crowned with these flower wreaths are blessed because the flower wreaths represent the love from their family and friends.

It is hard to make the flower wreaths, but it is much harder to hold these ceremonies because many Puyuma people have left their homeland for study or for work.

The videos of these ceremonies show that the traditional songs carry the spirits of the Puyuma tribe, from one generation to another generation, from the village to other cities. Baliwakes (1910-1988) is a very important person in Nanwang Village because he wrote many songs in Puyuma language with Puyuma spirit. Taiwan’s indigenous peoples’ resource center said,

陸森寶說自己作詞作曲是基於一個非常簡單的理由:他希望正在遺忘自己族語的年輕人,藉他的歌找到「山上的話」,從「山上的話」找到回「paLakuwan」的路。

Baliwakes said that he wrote the songs because he hoped the young people in his village, who started to forget their mother tones, can find the words from Puyuma Mountain and find their way to go back their paLakuwan.

Here is the last song written by Baliwakes (in Puyuma language), ‘In memory of the Annual Ritual.’

mikiyakarunan ku isiDumayan

I have to work away from my homeland

aDi ku pakawurumaruma

I cannot go home very often

hoiyan hoiyan iyahohaiyan hoiyan hoiyan iyahohaiyan aDi ku abaLu sonomukasi

I do not forget our tradition

tu pu'apuTai ku kan nanali

My mother crowns me with a flower wreath

muka ku muwaraka i paLakuwan

I go to paLakuwan and dance

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