Taiwan is house to a number of indigenous tribes which have lived on the island for 1000’s of years. Like indigenous tribes internationally, Taiwanese indigenous individuals are nationally famend for his or her unimaginable artwork, scrumptious meals, and elaborate traditions, making them an integral a part of Taiwan’s wealthy cultural heritage.


Although making up solely about 2% of the population, the indigenous tribes of Taiwan was a formidable drive in opposition to invaders. Having migrated to the island from Southeast Asia over 6,000 years in the past, Taiwanese tribes have confronted the Dutch, the Portuguese, the Chinese language, and the Japanese all through their historical past of residing in Taiwan.

Sadly, Taiwan’s small geographic dimension and historical past of invasion have lengthy contributed to a lack of conventional tribal life. In an effort to shed extra mild on the amazingly wealthy historical past and tradition of the tribes residing in Taiwan, listed below are some mind-blowing info about indigenous tribes in Taiwan that most individuals do not know.

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10 There Are 16 Acknowledged Tribes In Taiwan

Streetlights dotting the mountainside at night in Jiufen, Northern Taiwan
Photograph by Andy Wang on Unsplash

Streetlights dotting the mountainside at evening in Jiufen, Northern Taiwan

Because it presently stands, there are 16 formally acknowledged tribes in Taiwan: the Amis, Atayal, Bunun, Hla’alua, Kanakanavu, Kavalan, Paiwan, Puyuma, Rukai, Sakizaya, Saisiyat, Sediq, Thao, Truku, Tsou, and the Yami tribe. These tribes are unfold throughout the island, with most residing within the central mountainous areas and the japanese coast of Taiwan.

What makes Taiwanese indigenous tribes particularly distinctive is that despite the fact that Taiwan is small and well-connected, every tribe has its personal distinctive set of customs, traditions, languages, and social buildings. Particular customs typically embrace dance, music, and storytelling, in addition to looking (with a bow and arrow or a gun) and craft abilities.

9 Each Tribe In Taiwan Has Its Personal Language

Solo traveler in forest in Taiwan
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Solo traveler in forest in Taiwan

Although Mandarin Chinese language and Hokkien Chinese language (also referred to as Taiwanese) are the prevailing languages, each indigenous group in Taiwan has its personal language. There are even typically distinctive variations inside every language, leading to way more than simply 16 tribal languages being spoken throughout the island.

In contrast to the predominant languages of Chinese language, nonetheless, the languages of Taiwan’s indigenous tribes usually are not logographic (characters). As a substitute, all tribal languages in Taiwan are categorized as a part of the Austronesian language household, that means that they’re much like languages spoken within the Pacific Islands, Madagascar, and Southeast Asia.

8 Austronesians Are Linked Go Taiwan’s Indigenous Tribes

An island in Polynesia
Picture by Julius Silver from Pixabay 

An island in Polynesia

Students have not too long ago come to the conclusion that Taiwan is the birthplace of Austronesian bloodlines and the Austronesian language household. What this implies is that the indigenous individuals from the beautiful tropical Pacific Islands, Madagascar, and Southeast Asia are all associated and really stem from the indigenous individuals of Taiwan.

Not solely that, however Taiwan was additionally the epicenter of commerce 1000’s of years in the past. The idea goes that the Amis tribe made their own “South Pacific Sea Jade Road” from town of Taitung, bringing jade to different communities within the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, like Luzon, Borneo, and Indochina.

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7 Facial Tattoos Are Essential Amongst Some Tribes In Taiwan

Stone statue of Indigenous person in Taiwan with facial tattoo
Supply: 2day929 on Dreamstime

Stone statue of Indigenous particular person in Taiwan with facial tattoo

Although hardly practiced these days, facial tattoos had been a standard customized of a number of tribes throughout Taiwan. For the Atayal tribe specifically, that are primarily based in Taichung (a destination with lots to do and see), facial tattoos had been used to indicate age and standing, with completely different designs expressing completely different that means.

Sadly, the follow of tattooing the face of tribal members was discouraged by the Japanese and considered as “savage”. Because of this, it’s primarily simply aged members of tribes who nonetheless sport conventional Taiwanese facial tattoos.

6 Some Taiwanese Tribes Are Matrilineal

A woman wearing a tribal head dress in Kaohsiung
Photograph by Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash

A lady sporting a tribal head costume in Kaohsiung

Many indigenous tribes in Taiwan observe a patriarchal and patrilineal system, with some even following an ambilineal system; nonetheless, a number of tribes do have a matrilineal society.

Girls in each the biggest tribe in Taiwan (the Amis tribe in Hualien and Taitung) and the smallest tribe in Taiwan (the Sakizaya tribe in Hualien) are answerable for the property. Males additionally transfer in with the spouse’s household after marriage, and kids additionally take their mom’s surname.

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5 Festivals Play A Enormous Position In Tribal Tradition

Taiwan tribal gathering in Pingtung
Photograph by Lisanto 李奕良 on Unsplash

Taiwan tribal gathering in Pingtung

Whereas many Chinese language holidays and traditions have infiltrated the normal tribal calendar, indigenous tribes in Taiwan have loads of festivals of their very own which might be nonetheless extensively celebrated. Because the Amis tribe is the biggest tribe in Taiwan, it’s no shock that their ‘Harvest Competition’ is usually the biggest.

As most tribes in Taiwan used to give attention to farming and looking, a major variety of festivals and ceremonies nonetheless revolve round these matters. The Kanakanavu, who relies in Taoyuan and components of Kaohsiung, have their very own model of a harvest pageant with the ‘kanaira’ ceremony to rejoice the harvest of millet, and the Yami tribe from Orchid Island actually have a fishing pageant.

4 The Meals Of Taiwan’s Indigenous Folks Is Scrumptious

Food from Taiwan's Indigenous Peoples
Supply: Chloe Fang

Millet donuts, millet dumplings, and stir-fried boar, Meals from Taiwan’s Indigenous Peoples

From millet donuts dusted with sugar to stir-fried boar with steamed millet dumplings wrapped in banana leaf, the meals of Taiwan’s Indigenous Peoples is assorted and scrumptious. Even Chia seeds are current of their meals, with the seeds being the star of a refreshing lemon and honey drink.

Indigenous meals may be very completely different from regular Taiwanese delicacies and particularly completely different from the food found in local Taiwanese night markets. Relying on the area and the tribe residing there, some dishes might characteristic deer (Sika Deer is without doubt one of the nationwide animals in Taiwan), snakes, and even flying squirrels! Greens additionally take their fair proportion of the limelight in indigenous cooking too, with curly ferns and unique root greens regularly making an look.

3 Their Woven Designs Are Spectacular

Crafting with straw in Taiwan
Picture by falco from Pixabay 

Crafting with straw in Taiwan

Although many Taiwanese indigenous tribes are praised all through Taiwan for his or her lovely weaving patterns, not all tribes have developed as superior weaving designs because the Atayal tribe and the Truku tribe. From vibrant reds to mixings of colour, the flowery conventional outfits and equipment of those tribes are critically spectacular.

Artwork from Taiwanese Indigenous Tribes would not simply cease at weaving patterns and designs. Taiwanese tribes, particularly the central Paiwan tribe, are additionally famend for his or her lovely glazed beads, spectacular pottery abilities, and silver jewellery. The Yami Tribe on Orchid Island, simply off the coast of Taitung within the East of Taiwan, are additionally well-known for his or her wooden carvings, silver, and colourful boats.

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2 Many Taiwanese Tribes Used to Dwell On the Plains

Many Taiwan tribes live near the rough coast of Hualien
Photograph by Chloe Fang on Unsplash

Taiwanese indigenous tribes traditionally lived throughout the island and subsequent islands like Orchid Island within the East and Penghu within the West. The arrival of the Chinese language throughout the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), the Japanese throughout the Occupation Interval of Taiwan (1895-1945), and the Chinese language once more with the KMT (the Chinese language Nationalist Occasion in 1945-1949) pushed tribes in Taiwan ever additional up into the mountains and into the East to areas with tough and troublesome terrain.

Tribes residing within the plains within the northern components of Taiwan (like Yilan, an alternative destination to touristy Taipei) and within the central components of Taiwan (like Taichung) both moved additional inland or, typically, had been assimilated with the Han and Japanese peoples who had moved to inhabit the realm. It’s these ‘plain peoples’ that are actually the unrecognized tribes of Taiwan on account of their assimilation and important lack of tradition.

1 Taiwanese Tribes Are Receiving Extra Consideration Not too long ago

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei
Through: Kaizer Bienes on Unsplash

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Corridor in Taipei

Just like the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas (specifically, guests can learn authentically about Native American heritage through tours), the indigenous tribes of Taiwan have an extended historical past of battle and resistance in opposition to their colonizers. Whereas many traditions, cultures, and languages have been preserved, a lot of tribal life in Taiwan has been misplaced over time of occupation, persecution, and compelled assimilation.

Fortunately, lately, there was a rising recognition of the significance of preserving Taiwan’s indigenous cultures and traditions. The federal government has additionally taken steps to guard indigenous lands, promote indigenous language schooling, and assist cultural festivals and occasions. The Formosan Aboriginal Tradition Village, a theme park and academic heart exhibiting the customs and traditions of 9 completely different tribes, is a outstanding instance of this.



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