Monday, November 5, 2012

Rukai Tribe in Haocha Village, Pingtung County, Taiwan

People living in Haocha 好茶 (Fine Tea) village used to live up in the mountains, in a small village of the same anme, but were resettled to a newly built one after the 2008 flood destroyed their possessions of life. It's the last montaneous/hilly area before the land  gets flat guiding the river to the ocean bank. Haocha surprises with beautiful and sophisticated house decorations- they indicate the class membership of the owner. Rukai tribe is famous for beautifully ornamented and colourful clothes.

The New Church Opening Celebration, Haocha village, Pingtung County

Rukai tribe is strictly patrlinear and cultivate male primogeniture.

Rukai is one of the less populous tribes, count approximately 12 thousands.They occupy a relatively small area within Kaohsiung and Pingtung county borders.
The area traditionally inhabited by the Rukai tribe is surrounded by Puyuma and Paiwan tribes, leading to some  similarities in traditions between these three.

Rukai's main ritual is Millet Harvest Festival taking place in July or August. Millet biscuits are baked to foretell the following  year's harvest. All woman take part in a bamboo swing.

View from Sandimen village, Pingtung county

Their main domain is farming, taro, millet and yam but they also hunt and fish.

This tribe is known for its beautiful colorful garment ornaments made from beads and shells.

Rukai also developed a social class system. The house entrence of the clan's chef has a carving of a snake or a human head. To own a pottery was a privilege of noble class, Rukai did not develop those skills and had to grade for it.
The noble class are land owners andheir houses are slightly bigger than the gentry, and the commoners.
The other classification is as follows: chief, nobility, warriors, commoners. Warrior (mainly war or hunting heroes) class is allowed to wear bear skin, boar tusks and deer antlers.

The white Lily is a symbol of sacred honor. Both men and women can wear it, and it indicates man's hunting skills and woman's purity.

Rukai traditional wedding ceremony, Sandimen village, Pingtung county

Rukai tribe worship the hundred pattern snake. There's even a legend of the Rock of Oponohu carvings, which includes a  disobeying of hundred pace snake worship custom.  (It says that Rukai young man married a Bunun girl. She didn't follow Rukai customs of not eating the hundred pace snake and she was expelled from the village. She didn't stop eating hundred pace snakes though, and therefore, when she reached Oponohu Rock  circle patterns emerged in every place she touched. )

the hunderd pace snake ornamen

Rukai are also great singers although they haven't developed as sophisticated harmony and singing pattern as Bunun.

Anniversary of settling in Sandimen (from Haocha village, after flooding in 2004)

Homes are made of stones slabs.

Sandimen village
Sandimen village
Haocha (好茶) village is relatively new, built after the 2004 flood destroyed the old one. The villagers have been relocated into a new safer location. They have made an incredible effort to decorate their new houses with ornaments expressing their history culture, memories and status.

Many villagers offer Indigenous handicraft lessons

Paintings of a local art teacher

Haocha village is situated pretty high in the mountains.

Another village situated downhill is called Shui Men (水門).
It sells trditional Rukai wedding dresses, but also serves drinks snaks and traditional Rukai dishes.
The design is extremely creative combining Rukai ornaments with the atmosphere of colonial times in Vietnam (One could argue whether there was a proper colonialization in Taiwan. It was ruled for only a short periods of time: basically 60 years  in 17th century- Netherlands' VOC /Dutch East India Company/ and Spanish and Japan from 1989 until 1945).

One can have a really nice walk full of breathcatching views between Shuimen village situated dowhills in the  river bank, the Taiwanese Aboriginal Park, and back Haocha village situated uphills.

The entrence to the Guliu Workshop (restaurant/wedding clothes shop).
Address: 内埔鄉水門村成功路31號, Shuimen village, Chenggong street Nr 31
The shop on the map

Continuing the journey in narrow streets of Shuimen......

Taiwan Aboriginal Culture Park
It introduces all 14 officially recognized Taiwanese tribes, their history, culture, beliefs, artifacts, and housing. The Culture Park occupies pretty huge territory and tribal houses are set in the mountains.

Drum Concert at Concert Hall in Taiwan Aboriginal Culture Park Majia Township, Pingtung

Taiwan Aboriginal Culture Park Concert

Rukai vase

Porch outside of house

Introduction to Haocha village

Other useful information about Rukai tribe in Sandimen- Taiwan, the Heart of Asia website