4/06/2011

CKS Airport Gets Culture

CKS Airport Exhibit

I grabbed this shot in the CKS Airport in Taoyuan, Taiwan on the weekend. It's pretty new; I hadn't noticed it before. The exhibit does okay in referencing the 13 recognized aboriginal groups in Taiwan (although there is nothing on the other dozen or so still working to gain some sort of status). Let me run down the 13 on the books, according to the information given here: 

1. Truku tribe: "Distributed among Siulin, Wanrong and Zosi townships in the mountainous of Hualien County [and of course across the rest of Taiwan these days], the Truku have a population of 'about' 20,711." This number would depend upon how you see things. Aboriginal groups tend to be matriarchal. Taiwan's census, however, is based upon a patriarchal system, meaning offspring take the father's "racial" status / surname.  Therefore, groups such as the  Truku would probably see a child born of an aboriginal mother and Taiwanese father as Truku. The census would have it another way.

2. Bunan tribe: "Bunan music was particularly admired when 'when' it was presented to the world in 1953 at the International Society of Ethnomusicology by T. Kurosawa from Japan [you don't say!]. Bunan music has since become a treasure in the ethnomusicology circle." It wasn't a treasure before 1953, and it hasn't been a treasure among the non-ethnomusicology circle of Taiwanese people since then?

3. Puyuma tribe: The paragraph closes, mentioning a rahan for the first time: "The rahan, or priest, is in charge of all rituals to please the gods and goddesses with beautiful harmony and to judge the millet yields of the year." A priest who pleases the gods and goddesses? Tell that to a Catholic; I'm sure they would not view a priest in such terms.

4. Thao tribe: The last sentence mentions the ulalaluan for the first time: "The ulalaluan is the representation of the ancestral memorial tablet [whatever that is] in the Thao culture."

5. Ami tribe: The last sentence again mentions something out of the blue: "Today military training has been largely reduced, and only an athletic meet, sea fishing, and celebrations with singing and dancing survive." Are you talking about Ami' traditions? Do you actually have the gall to suggest only these parts of Ami culture survive?

6. Atayal tribe: "The Atayal males are great warriors [we'd better watch out then], and the women are 'skilful' weavers." If that means "skillful," good. The tourists are gonna love it.

7. Paiwan tribe

8. Tao (Yami) tribe: "[A]bout 2,712" of them.

9. Tsou tribe: "The Tsou with a population of 'about' [and not exactly] 6,149 live in high mountain areas . . . . Today, the Tsou hold the heaven ritual, the evil spirit driving ritual and benediction, and the puberty ritual together at a regular time every year [end of explanation]."

10.Sakzaya [no space between number and name] tribe: "Since 2001, the Sakizaya have been aggressively promoting a cultural restoration [before that, they didn't care] movement in order to recover their traditional rituals, singing, dancing, and dancing of the Sakizaya [you'd think they'd be more interested in stressing they have certain rights; but hey!, what's an aboriginal gonna do if he or she doesn't know which dance to dance?!].

11.Rukai [no space between number and name] tribe: "Chaste women can wear lilies."

12.Kevalan tribe: "'Priests' are all women. [A female priest? Fancy that.]" Population is about 911. 

13.Saisiyat tribe: Pretty condescending understanding here too, sprinkled with more of the same whimsical impossible to comprehend.



Comment: Somewhere, some charlatan academic or group of charlatan academics is making money to spew this junk. Chances are he, she or they is being paid with our tax dollars. I don't know what is more aggravating:

a.) He, she or they is making the people of our Taiwan look insensitive to the world as it comes and goes from the country's largest international airport. 
b.) He, she or they is an educator, and is also busy feeding this kind of stupidity to younger people.

If you take a look at the picture at the top of the post, you'll see it's a beach house. An ocean spreads out from the front door beyond a white, sandy beach, and there is a palm tree for shade. I counted three palm trees in the exhibit. I didn't see a single yew, cedar or pine tree, or any other tree that normally grows in northern Taiwan. 

To me, this image exactly speaks to a troubling kind of revisionism that is going on here in Taiwan. Simply said, aborigines only come from the south. So, they are like Hawaiians and are different from us. In this idea, the people of the north aren't required to think or feel about what is happening in this discussion because palm trees don't normally grow in Taipei or other locations north of the Tropic of Cancer. 

Of course, this is not true as aborigines come from all over Taiwan. They come from apartments in Taipei, houses in Ilan and dormitories in Hsinchu. Most of them do not live in beach houses. I don't know of any that dance and sing around palm trees.

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