Taiwanese Aboriginal Tribes — 臺灣原住民14族
Taiwan's original people (原住民) have lived on this island for perhaps 8,000 years and are all Austronesian-speaking people -- some anthropologists even believe all Austronesian people originated in Taiwan. Taiwanese Aboriginals have many ethnic groups, languages and traditions, and have all been assimilated into modern Han Taiwanese society to differing degrees. Taiwan's government divides these indigenous people into (a fairly arbitrary) fourteen 'officially recognized Aboriginal Tribes,' and an even more arbitrary 'High Mountain' and 'Plains' Aboriginals.
Today, recognized Aboriginals comprise about 2% of Taiwan's population -- although recent genetic studies indicate this number could be closer to 60% if it included 'Plains Aboriginals.
The fourteen recognized groups are:
Amis 阿美族, Atayal 泰雅族, Bunun 布農族, Kavalan 噶瑪蘭族, Paiwan 排灣族, Puyuma 卑南族, Rukai 魯凱族, Saisiyat 賽夏族, Sakizaya 撒奇萊雅族, Seediq 賽德克族, Tao 達悟族, Thao 邵族, Tsou 鄒族 and Truku 太魯閣族.
Some unrecognized groups that are actively lobbying for recognition are:
Babuza, Basay, Hoanya, Ketagalan, Luilang, Pazeh/Kaxabu, Papora, Qauqaut, Siraya, Taokas and Trobiawan
Nomenclature can be confusing as names are translated from ancient, sometimes extinct, languages and arbitrary groupings into Chinese (sometimes via Taiwanese) and then into English.
The following photographs of all fourteen Taiwan Aboriginal tribes were taken at the Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Culture Park in Sandimen for the ‘Tribal Wedding Customs Across Asia” special in Asian Geographic. (Issue 89, out now) Sadly they went with illustrations for a more congruous look and my photos weren’t needed and they only one paragraph was devoted to each the Amis and Rukai. There are not many sets of nice photographs of Taiwan Aboriginal tribes so I will post them here. They are generally a male female pairing for the wedding theme.
Seediq 賽德克族 Taiwan Aboriginal Tribe
The Seediq were recently popularized in the movie ‘Seediq Bale.’
Rukai 魯凱族 Aboriginal Tribe
The Rukai male carries the female to the wedding as pictured above.
Identifying Taiwanese aboriginal clothing is not easy. Different villages of the same tribe may have variations of the traditional costume. The more traditional dress above is very different than the casual one below. Matters are further confused by the arbitrary classification of the tribes (the original nine tribes were Japanese groupings and further refinements have been made over the years) for some tribes consider themselves seperate from the tribe that the government categorizes them as. To see the quite dramatic difference in costume between the Northern Tsou versus the Hla’alua (Salaua) and Kanakanavu — both considered Tsou by the government — see my photographs here: Taiwanese Aboriginal Festival Photos
Amis 阿美族 Aboriginal Tribe Taiwan
Tao 達悟族 Aboriginal Tribe
Here the woman is throwing her hair as is commonly done in the traditional Tao (or Dawu) dance.
Tsou 鄒族 Aboriginal Tribe
The above photograph was the only one not shot in Sandimen, it was taken in Mexico at my sister-in-law’s wedding. I added this photo because it is a nice picture of my wife and her twin sister. My wife sewed the clothing herself. She considers herself Bunun from her father’s side but her mother was Northern Tsou from Alishan so she also learned many of their customs in her youth.
Kavalan 噶瑪蘭族 Aboriginal Tribe
Bunun 布農族 Aboriginal Tribe
Paiwan 排灣族 Aboriginal Tribe
Saisiyat 賽夏族 Aboriginal Tribe
Sakizaya 撒奇萊雅族 Aboriginal Tribe
Rukai 魯凱族 Aboriginal Tribe
Atayal 泰雅族 Aboriginal Tribe
Thao 邵族 Aboriginal Tribe
Truku 太魯閣族 Aboriginal Tribe
Puyuma 卑南族 Aboriginal Tribe
A huge thank you to all the people at the Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Culture Park who posed for these photos and an apology they were never used in the magazine.