2020/06/01 The name of Puyuma is changed to Pinuyumayan
Puyuma people live on the plains with many other ethnic groups, so they have an early history of encountering different cultures. Yet, the traditional Puyuma cultures and lifestyles are still maintained. The Puyuma society has a strict hierarchy ranked by age and community house. Practices of magic are very powerful and wellknown among the indigenous peoples in Taiwan. Nowadays, the Puyuma still celebrate ‘The Completion of Millet Weeding’, ‘Millet Harvest Ritual’ (Sea Thanking Ritual), ‘Annual Festival for Youth’ (Monkey Ritual), ‘Annual Festival’ (Major Hunting Ritual). Among them, the Major Hunting Ritual is the most celebrated. Currently, the Puyuma population is 13,665 (until March 2016).
Puyuma people call themselves ‘puyuma’, but they were historically also known as ‘Biaoma’, ‘Piaoma’ or ‘Puyouma’ in Chinese. The name originated from the Puyuma Village at Beinan Township in Taitung. In order to avoid confusion between Puyuma the people and Puyuma the village, some people advocate the use of ‘Pinuyumayan’ as the new name for the people in order to draw a distinction between the people and the village.
Puyuma origin myths include bamboo origin and stone origin. Bamboo origin is from Beinan Village, but the stone origin comes from Zhiben Village. Other villages originated from Beinan and Zhiben, and slowly developed into their villages through migration.
The Puyuma were a powerful people in the seventeenth century. The peak of their power was in the time of Puyuma Regent. It is said the Puyuma king was then very powerful. He led seventy-two villages, and his power reached to Yuli Township in Hualien County in the north and Hengchun Township in Pingtung County in the south. He was highly respected by all villages. In the eighteenth century, some clans moved to Hengchun Peninsula and developed their own power there, extending the Puyuma power even down south. There they were called ‘sukaro’ people, meaning, in the language of Paiwan, those people riding on sedan chair or being carried above shoulders.
At the end of the nineteenth century as the Japanese era began, the Puyuma began to be known as ‘Puyuma’. And since there were eight major villages, they were also called ‘Aborigines of Eight Villages’. Currently, the Puyuma are concentrated in Taitung City and Beinan Township on the Taitung Plain. Few live in Chenggong Township and Taimali Township. Primary Puyuma villages include Zhiben Li, Jianha (aka Shemagan in Jianhe Li), Nanwang (Nanwang Li) and Baosang Li in Taitung City. Other villages include Lijia (aka Lujiawang in the old times, in Lijia Village), Taian (aka Dabaliujiu in Taian Village and Taiping Village), Shangbinlang (aka Alibai in Binlang Village), Xiabinlang (aka Bilangshuge in Binlang Village), Chulu (aka Beisihjiou in Chulu Village), Longguomai (aka Mingfeng Village) and Banjiu (merged with Chulu); these villages are in Beinana Township. Now, many people have also left the east of Taiwan to live in the city, and they are quite active in many fields.
In the Puyuma society, the earliest crop was millet; later, grain, hemp, bean and wheat were developed. Skills and implements to grow water rice were introduced by the Puyuma Regent (Pinadray) in the eighteenth century. It brought in the peak of agriculture production and skill development. During the Japanese Occupation Period, growing water rice was supported and encouraged by the government policies. The scale of rice cultivation increased. After the 1960s, some crops were replaced by cash products such as sugar apple and Betel leaf pepper.
Traditional Puyuma staples are millet, dry rice, sweet potato and taro. Game, fish and shellfish provide them with the source for protein. At festivals, the Puyuma people eat sticky rice cakes made of glutinous rice or millet and marinated pork wrapped in shell ginger leaves. This is typical Puyuma food. Betel nuts are indispensable in daily life; they are also important offerings in rituals.
Puyuma costumes are made of hemp. Traditional colors are rich, based with red, yellow and green, and embellished with black and white in order to create multi-layer diamond pattern and cross-stitch patterns.
Genders and age ranks can be distinguished by Puyuma costumes. Costumes not only strengthen social identity but also clearly indicate social relationships among the people. Costumes for men differ by the ranks. Clothes or the youth are the most splendid; there are upper clothes, black short pant, legging, betel nut bag and waist bag. For full attire, they wear knife and accessories like glass bead or silver. Clothes for marriageable girls are the most beautiful; they include headscarf, shirt, chest cover, skirt and legging. The chief and the priest in full attire will put on feather crown and shoulder bag. A female medium (priestess) will also have shoulder ornament in order to mark her special identity.
At rituals, Puyuma people make flower wreaths for themselves as well as for the visitors. Boys still in their service at the adult house can only wear fir wreaths (similar to people in mourning). After they pass the adult ceremony and the funeral rite lifting ceremony, they can wear beautiful flower wreaths. Those who receive more flower wreaths at rituals mean they have good friendship and social connections. Therefore, many visitors consider flower wreaths as the most impressive ritual decoration.
Puyuma people are good at making objects with rattan or bamboo. They develop square, human figure and hexagonal patterns in plaiting. In this way, they make good-quality and portable articles for daily use, such as rattan basket, rattan bag and pack basket. Shell ginger leaf mat is warm in winter and cool in summer; it is commonly used for resting in normal days. The strengths of bamboo articles are their thinness and strength. Common bamboo articles include bamboo cup, pipe and trap for fishing and hunting.
In traditional Puyuma buildings, there are family house, the Men’s House and the House for Ancestral Spirits. Among them, the Men’s House is stilted and resembles the style in Southeast Asia. By function, Puyuma buildings can be divided into public and private buildings. Public buildings are the Men’s House, and the House for Ancestral Spirits and the Watchtower; private buildings are the family house, granary and the House for Ancestral Spirits exclusively for the use of the priestess.
A family house is a rectangular building with a thatched-roof and bamboo chip walls; two doors are installed on the long sides of the walls. Windows are installed on both sides of the door for ventilation. Inside the house, there are woven beds along the walls. In the front area, there is a stove made by three pieces of stone. The corner at the back wall is a granary for farming implements such as pestle and mortar. The size of a traditional family house is determined by the social status of the owner. Direct families of the chief of the village have the largest houses, while the house of their relatives and the common people are smaller. The house of a new family is the simplest.
Puyuma people have strict age rank. At the age of twelve or thirteen, boys start to live in the Men’s House and receive training in physical strength and hunting. They can only leave after they get married. The Men’s House can be divided according to age rank into the Youth House and the Adults House.
The Youth House is two-story high, entered and exited by the stairs. The living room has an oval-shape thatched-roof. Outside the House, there is a surrounding corridor connecting the entrances. In the middle of the living room, there is a fire stove. The Adults House is a rectangular building with a thatched-roof and bamboo walls; it is oval-shaped. Inside, there is a bamboo bed. In the middle of the house, there is also a stove for making fire; it is the most important spot of the house.
◎House for Ancestral Spirits
The House for Ancestral Spirits is the place where families worship ancestors and celebrate customs of life. Many rituals are conducted inside. The traditional House for Ancestral Spirits has bamboo walls and a thatched-roof. Inside, there are religious facilities such as an altar and a stove. Puyuma priests and priestess are wellknown to possess great magic power. They heal, drive away evil spirits and pray for blessing. Later, the House for Ancestral Spirits exclusively for the use of priestesses is developed. The House for priestesses normally sits east to west; the northeast spot of the interior space is the most sacred and is installed with memorial tablets of ancestors.
6. Music and Songs
Puyuma music is serene, elegant and rhythmic. Lyrics narrate events and stories; songs are presented in a powerful and poetic way. By function, Puyuma songs can be divided into the following categories:
◎Songs for Rituals
Puyuma songs for ritual are mainly sung at rituals. People with different roles and identities in the village are entitled to different songs. There are songs for the Monkey Ritual, which is traditionally a male ritual, songs for the Major Hunting Ritual, songs for Annual Rituals, and the ancient ‘Headhunting Narrative Song’.
◎Songs for Work and Entertainment
These songs are sung at work or leisure hours, such as ‘Work Song’ of the Women Working Group.
◎Songs about the Society
Puyuma music culture is full of life. New songs are written one after another. Many Puyuma people are encouraged to devote themselves in music and become important figures in the entertainment business. Examples include the father of Puyuma folksongs Baliwakes Lu Sen-bao, Hu De-fu, Chen Jian-nian, Ji Xiao-jun, Zhang Hui-mei, Chen Ming-ren and Sangpuy (Lu Xie-sing), etc.
Puyuma dances reflect differences in gender and age. People must follow the dance steps strictly of their own social rank. In the Puyuma society, there are different dances for different rituals. There are dance steps for the Monkey Ritual. Brave warriors hold a shield in one hand and do the most valiant dance steps (which is also called The Shield Dance). There is also the ‘Dance of the Spirit’ (also called the Dance of the Valiant or the Warrior); this dance is meant to offer gratitude, pray for blessing and protect the village.
The Puyuma language differs according to geography and encounter experiences with other groups of people. For example, in Zhiben in the south, the language is heavily influenced by the language of Paiwan and Rukai, and is thickly voiced. In the Puyuma villages in the north, the language is influenced by the pronunciation of the Amis language as well as by people’s intensive contact with Han Chinese; therefore, people there can speak fluent Taiwanese language, also called the Holo language.
The political leader, priest and shaman in the Puyuma society play different professional roles in order to fulfill the needs of politics, customs and rituals and daily medical care for disease in the village. The male relationship in the Puyuma society is manifested by age rank and Men’s House; marriage system is practiced based on the matrilineal principle; much emphasis is placed on mother’s family line and clan. In recent years, due to influence from the mainstream society, Puyuma kinship system has inclined towards a patriarchy system.
1. Kinship System
Families that share common ancestors belong to one clan. Among the clans, the ones that have a long history and a proper name are called ‘Major Clan Family’. Clans that separate themselves from the major family are called ‘Minor Clan Family’, while those that are separated from the major family but do not yet have their own clan are called ‘Separated Families’. There is a major family and dozens of separated families in a clan; they are all members of the same clan. Take Zhiben village for example. There are three clans. Each clan has its house for ancestors, leaders of the clan and a common Men’s House. The leaders of the clan represent the clan in dealing with the affairs of the village.
2. Marriage System
In the traditional Puyuma marriage system, the name and properties of the family are inherited by the first-born girl. Men move in to women’s family. In the Ethnological categorization of society and culture, this is called a ‘matrilineal society’. Nowadays, traditional matrilocal marriage is very rare.
3. Village Organization
The traditional political leader in the Puyuma village is called ‘ayawan’; he is responsible for negotiating important events in the village and leading the headhunting and warfare expeditions. The priest ‘rahan’ is in charge of rituals and custom affairs. The role is served by men and leads every ritual. A priest must know the calendar, climate and history very well; besides, he must also know traditional songs and dances so as to provide guidance in traditional agriculture and life. The priest is regarded as an erudite sage. The shaman (na temaramaw) can be both men and women; those suffering from illnesses can come to them for healing. They perform healing magic to restore the health of people.
4. Age Rank and Men’s House
Puyuma boys enter the Youth House at the age of twelve or thirteen. They live with other boys and receive strict training to build physical strength and knowledge for as long as six to seven years. At the age of seventeen or eighteenth, boys will transfer from the Youth House to the Adults House for advanced training. After they enter the Adults House, they are divided into four to five ranks. All members must obey seniors, take more labor work and learn the skills of fast walking, wrestling, surviving in the wilderness and hunting.
In the 1990s, Puyuma people came to realize the importance of revitalization of traditional culture. In the villages of Zhiben, Chulu and Nanwang, Men’s Houses were built; youth and culture associations were established; historical roots were being pursued once again; and the language was being revitalized.
In traditional Puyuma beliefs, there are gods and spirits (biruwa) everywhere. They are God of Nature, God of Heaven and Earth, God of Four Directions, God of Creation, the spirits of ancestors and the spirits of the dead. There are also good and bad spirits. Before the harvest and going hunting, Puyuma people inform the spirits of their activity to show respect. In addition to the gods or spirits of the nature, ancestral spirits have direct impact on the fortunes of a person. So when praying for blessings at the rituals, Puyuma people also worship their ancestral spirits.
Puyuma shamans are very powerful and wellknown among neighboring peoples. The Puyuma shamans are good at divination, foretelling opportunity and development based on the signs in the nature and environment, notably by decoding dream omens or bird divination.
In addition to Puyuma traditional beliefs, people also follow Chinese religion and western Christian faith. Three types of religion coexist in their modern life. Since the 1980s, traditional rituals were restored and revitalized. Traditional beliefs were once again valued and discussed.
In the traditional Puyuma belief, there are two types of rituals: one is the annual ritual related to agriculture, such as Millet Harvest Ritual and the Completion of Women’s Weeding Activity; and the other type is related to the cycle of life, such as the Monkey Ritual and the Major Hunting Ritual. Puyuma rituals in a year include 1. ‘Completion of Women’s Weeding Activity’ in March; 2. ‘Worship Ancestors at the Landing and Origin Site’ in April; 3. ‘Millet Harvest Ritual’ in July; and 4. ‘Annual Rituals (Monkey Ritual and Major Hunting Ritual)’ in December.
1. The Completion of Women’s Weeding Activity
Puyuma women form the weeding group to share farm work among themselves. In March, after the completion of cultivation, some leisure activities or events will be held. The event starts with the female shaman praying with glazed beads. After that, women must leave, play gongs, shout slogans and run to get the betel leaf peppers at the place where the elders leave them; the betel leaf peppers are gifts for the men. After getting the betel leaf peppers, women run back to the event site together. It symbolizes the sense of unity in heart and in hand. After women return to the village, they enjoy the feast and participate in all kinds of fun competitions and activities.
2. Worship Ancestors at the Landing and Origin Site
People of Zhiben and Jianhe villages come to the landing site every April led by the priest and the female shaman to commerate and worship their ancestors. This ritual is simple and solemn. It is culturally and historically significant for the reverence of ancestors.
3. Millet Harvest Ritual
Millet Harvest Ritual is a family ritual and it lasts from three to seven days. Before the night of the Millet Harvest Ritual, the priest performs dream divination and drives away evil spirits. On the morning of the Ritual, with the help from women who have good dreams, the priest places three betel nuts cut open with glaze beads in them in the middle of the millet field. He then cuts the millet stalk and covers it on the betel nuts with beads. Then he again cuts another bunch of millet stalk, brings it back to the priest’s place and ties it to a bamboo pole. As soon as the villagers see the millet stalks hanging on the bamboo pole, they know the ritual is finished, and they can officially start reaping the millet in their field. At the same time, all kinds of cultural activities also start in the village. Some villages will build a swing in the square. People believe the higher the swing flies, the taller and better the millet grows in the following year. The swing is meant to pray for blessings on agriculture and cultivation.
4. Annual Ritual
The biggest event in the Puyuma villages is the ‘Annual Ritual’. This event takes place between the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. It includes the Monkey Ritual and the Major Hunt Ritual. It lasts for around three weeks, and is the biggest ritual event in the society.
The Monkey Ritual in the Annual Ritual Series is a ritual to train the courage of young people, while the Major Hunting Ritual is designed for learning how to survive in the wilderness and headhunting expedition. It also prepares young people to protect their family. After the event, celebration and lifting mourning are held to get people together and to comfort those who have lost their family member (men or women) in the year.
The Annual Ritual Series is a big event. Before the event, everyone in the village must make flower wreaths, prepare food, and brew wine. Roadblocks must also be installed around the village in order to keep evil spirits away. At the same time, the men’s house must be renovated; the altar and the altar for stabbing the monkey be set up. In recent years, a new united annual ritual has been developed; it becomes the event for people to renew friendship and strengthen their ethnic consciousness.
◎The Monkey Ritual
The Monkey Ritual usually takes place at the beginning of the second half of December. On the day of the Ritual, young people have to stab the monkey with long spears to train their courage. On the evening before the monkey-stabbing ceremony, young people with bare upper body smear their face with ashes, carry banana leaves in their hands and act to drive away evil spirits at every house. Nowadays, in the monkey-stabbing ceremony, people have replaced the real monkey with a grass monkey.
◎Major Hunting Ritual
The Major Hunting Ritual is the annual hunting and headhunting event in the Puyuma society. It is closely related to the rite of passage for men; men must experience the Major Hunting Ritual to become adults.
Right now, the Major Hunting Ritual takes place between the 27th and 31st in December. Major events include camping in the wilderness, catching game, and learning survival and hunting skills in the wilderness from elders. After the end of the Ritual, women in the village build a triumph gate with bamboos and wait by the gate. When men return to the village, women dress themselves up in ceremonial costumes and everyone get together to celebrate and to comfort those who have lost their family members (men or women) in the year.
◎United Annual ritual
Since (the year of 1982), Puyuma villages have developed a type of ritual called ‘United Annual Ritual’. The date is not fixed, but is to be decided by the united conference of the villages. The Ritual is hosted by each Puyuma village in a rotating fashion. Events include singing, dancing and competition activities. Previously the Annual Ritual was hosted separately by each village; nowadays it is an event to be conducted by villages in turn. It also has become an event to unite the entire Puyuma people together.