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Indigenous Communities

    * * *
    * The Culture of Tsou *

      The Tsous are the minorities in Taiwan's aboriginal communities. Among the 14 ethnics of indigenous peoples in Taiwan, the Tsous have the smallest population. They are divided into the southern and northern Tsou, and speak three languages. The Tsuo communities in Kaohsiung County's Taoyuan Township belong to the Shaluwa sector and the ones in Namasia belong to the Kanakafu sector.

    * Patriarchal Society *

      Kanakafu is a patrilineal clan-based society with highly concentrated patriarchal power. In the past, it was a rather aggressive ethnic group, and the Japanese colonial policies and the Han ethnic forced them into a limited territory and their wild temper was gradually tamed.

    * Assembly halls are the centers of the tribes *

      Management of the Kanakafu tribes is run by the council of elders. The leader position is customarily assumed by the elder of the largest clan, who also acts as the convener of the tribal meetings. All tribal affairs are decided in the tribal meetings before put into enforcement. The spiritual center of the Tsous is the assembly hall in the largest clan. It is used for youth training and tribal activities and only the large clans have the privilege to own an assembly hall; the regular villages are not allowed to set up such facilities. Inside of the assembly hall, exhibits of the "head-cage" and "fire tool box" are displayed. These items are symbols of war. Once a war breaks out, the warriers can take out the items as needed. The assembly hall is the gathering place in the tribe.

    * The disappearing crafts and technology *

      The Kanakafu people were originally hill farmers. Hunting, fishing, and raising livestock brought supplementary resources to the family. The main crops were millet, rice, and taro. Millet brew, potato brew, and tobacco are the favorites of the Kanakafu people. In traditional crafts, pottery and weaving were works of women; Unfortunately, the crafts are disappearing. Rattan and bamboo baskets are still the indispensable utensils. The Kanakafu people have a unique style of leather art, but it is a rare craft nowadays and only seen in celebrations worn by the men. The representative embroidery works are found in the chest pouches worn by the men.

    * Intriguing body decorations *

    Like other aboriginal communities, the Kanakafu also have the custom of body decoration.

      * Hairstyle
      The boys and girls keep the children's hairstyle up to 12 years old and long hair in between 15 and 16. The adult men keep the same hairstyle but wear a deerskin hat to conceal it. The women spilt the hair in half from the back and conceal the hair in a headscarf.
      * Teeth Pulling
      The men and women have their two front teeth and canine teeth respectively pulled at age 11 or 12.
      * Ear piercing
      The boys and girls have their ears pierced by their parents at age 3 or 4. Ear piercing is meant for wearing of earrings in the adolescent years.
      * Beliefs and Rituals
      The Kanakafu people believe in the existence of supernatural powers in two categories: the spirit of the dead and the divine. The rituals are called utsu: millet rituals are offering to gods, which is symbolic of prayer activities. All gods of Kanakafu are offered in the farming. Besides the farming rituals, there are two other large sacrificial rituals, the hunting ritual and the enemy head ritual. These rituals are more like shamanism ceremonies and no ceremonies of holy offerings are made in the process.
    * Traditional Rituals *
    Name of Rituals Month Content of Rituals
    Plowing Ritual October Logging, plowing, and preparing the farmland
    Sowing Ritual January Sowing; the ritual lasts for three days.
    Weeding Ritual   This ritual is held when the millet sprouts.
    Crop Thinning Ritual April Crop thinning
    Bird-Scare Ritual June/July Scaring the birds with clappers
    Harvest Commencement Ritual July Beginning of harvest
    Harvest Completion Ritual August First day: brew rice wine
    Second day: group hunting
    Third day: churning millet
    Fourth day: offer new harvest to the gods
    Fifth day: farewell the gods