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 The Diversity of Taiwanese Culture


  The Diversity of Taiwanese Culture
Atayal Beaded gown
↗Atayal Beaded gown
Paiwan Necklace
↗Paiwan Necklace

↗Yami Boat

The island of Taiwan not only enjoys changing geography but also a diverse culture. Apart from the Han people who moved over from mainly Guangdong and Fujian provinces on Mainland China, there are also aboriginal tribes with a population of more than 390,000 and the Pingpus who have assimilated into the Han culture scattered throughout the 30 mountain townships, and the 26 townships and the urban areas on flat land.

Prior to the 17 th century, Austronesian people occupied the island of Taiwan. Although the relationship between aboriginal tribes and Taiwan's prehistoric culture is not yet completely pictured nor is it described in detail, it is believed that, based on existing resources, Austronesian aboriginal tribes and the protagonists of prehistoric ages moved to the island in batches and at different times. Those who uphold the theory that the current aborigines in Taiwan migrated here at different times believe that this migration may have occurred as early as 3,000 to 4,000 years B.C., i.e. 5,000 to 6,000 years ago.

The Atayals and the Saisiats in northern Taiwan did not develop the art of pottery-making. Instead, they are known for their skills in facial tattoos and exquisite weaving. It is believed that they were the earliest aboriginal tribes to arrive in Taiwan around 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. The Shaos, the Bununs, and the Tsous arrived in central Taiwan little more than 3,000 years ago. And the artistic Paiwans, Puyumas, and Rukais arrived on the island about 1,000 years ago. The Amis in eastern Taiwan whose culture bore resemblance to that of the metal culture in the Philippines arrived in Taiwan around 2,000 years ago. The Dawus came to Taiwan much later. They migrated to the Orchid island from Batan in the Philippines during the years between Tang and Song dynasties. However, there are some other academics who believe that the Austronesians in Taiwan evolved out of one ethnic group only. Both theories are currently searching for more supporting evidence.

About three hundred years ago, a considerable number of the Han people from Fujian and Guangdong migrated to Taiwan. There were still many Pingpus inhabiting the western plains of the island at that time. They were gradually influenced by the more powerful Han people. At the end of the nineteenth century, the Pingpus left on the island included the Ketagalans who resided in Keelung, Tamshui, and Ilan County, the Luilangs who lived in and around the Taipei basin, the Kavalans in Ilan County, the Toakas in the coastal plains in Hsinchu and Miaoli, the Pazehs and the Paporas in Taichung County, the Babuzas in Changhua County, the Hoanyas in Jiayi and Nantou, and the three subraces of Siraya are spread across Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Pingtung counties. The Shaos inhabiting the area around the Sun and Moon lake were once grouped as part of the Pingpus. Now they have been recognized as an individual clan.

Although the aborigines in Taiwan are all part of the Malay-Polynesian family, there are still distinct differences between each of them. For example, in terms of political system, the Dawu, Atayal and Bunun tribes practice equal rights, the Rukais have rigid differences between noblemen and commoners while the Paiwans have a strict hierarchical society. In religious beliefs, there are spirit worships of non-specific forms to polytheism. In family relations, there are the matriarchal or patriarchal societies to the matriarchal and patriarchal societies. The dozen or so tribes in Taiwan present a diverse socio-cultural phenomenon.



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