|中文版English簡體版日文版|兒童版

台灣原住民數位博物館標誌(回首頁)

 
 
 

 

Rukai


Introduction to the Ethnic Group

The mug shot of the chief of Wanshan Community i
n the Xia San Community Group of Rukai

2007 Kungadavan house made of slab of stone

There were many Japanese scholars engaged in the categorization of Taiwanese aborigines during the period of Japanese rule (1894-1945), but their results were very inconsistent. Mabuchi Toichi, in “Retrospect on the Classification of the Formosan Aborigines” (高砂族分類—學史的回顧, 1953), points out that the most controversial issue of classifying the “Rukai” group is whether the group is an independent ethnic group or a sub-group of the Paiwan. He also mentions that the group was called “Tsarisen” in early papers, but has been changed to “Rukai” since the publication of “The Formosan native tribes : a genealogical and classificatory study” (台湾高砂族系統所屬研究).

Based on related archives and research, it can be concluded that the construction of the “Rukai’ ethnic group has undergone four stages: First, Ino Kanori and Dennojo Awano (1900) accorded the Tsarisen the status of an independent ethnic group, based on customs and language. The “Tsarisen” ethnic group included the Raval, Butsaul, Rukai and the Xia-shan Tribe. Second, Ushinosuke Mori (1912), Sayama, Ykichi (1921) and Kojima Yoshimichi (1920) considered the Tsarisen to be part of the Paiwan. Third, Utzukawa, Ogawa Hisayoshi and Asai Erin (1935) classified the Rukai as a separate group based on genealogy and language. So the “Rukai" ethnic group included the Rukai and the Xia-shan Tribe. Fourth, Tadao Kano reincorporated the Rukai into the Paiwan group. Tadao Kano (1939) divided the “Rukai” group, based on geographical distribution and self-perception, into three branches: “the eastern Rukai,” “the western Rukai" and the “Xia-shan Tribe.” Chi-lu Chen (1955) divided the Rukai into three groups by their geographical distribution: “the Danan group,” “the Ailiao group” and “the Jhuokou group.”

The Rukai method for naming topographical features is clear and systematic. Cold and wet high mountain area (takangangerecane) is called drekai, and warm, low hilly area (takaculuane) is called labelabe. Tribes form the boundary between these two areas so “Rukai” means “the high and cold place.” When encountering the Paiwan, the Rukai address themselves as Ngudradrekai, which means “people living on the mountains,” “people from the mountains” or “people living in the cold and clammy place (takangangerecane),” which can be interpreted as “the group living in the icy cold region.” The reason is that regarding their relative locations, the Rukai are distributed in higher areas above sea level than the Paiwan, so the term of self-address, Ngudradrekai, corresponds to their environment. But when the Wutai Rukai mention the distinction between aborigines (including themselves) and non-aborigines, they call themselves Kacalrisiaane (mountain people) instead of Ngudradrekai. The term Rukai, seen in the documents, may be a mispronunciation of drekai from Ngudradrekai. Generally speaking, when the western Rukai talk about the name of their ethnic group in Mandarin, they use the term “Rukai ethnic group” (魯凱族), but in their own language they use the term “Ngudradrekai.” The eastern Rukai call themselves su-Taromak, which means “people who live in Danan." The Xia-shan Tribe take the names of the three villages Torlukan, Oponoho and Kungadavan as their ethnic names in their own language, because these names are inherited from ancestors, while they use “the Rukai” (魯凱) as their ethnic name in Mandarin.
The Rukai population was originally centered at Dalubaling (the Big Ghost Lake) but then spread throughout southern Taiwan and gradually formed the Xia-shan Tribe, including Maolin, Wanshan and Duona Villages, the western Rukai, including Jilou, Haocha, Ali, Wutai, Shenshan, Yila, Jiiamu and Dawu Villages, and the eastern Rukai, mainly in Dalumake Village.
If the migration and settlement situation and the relationship with Dalumake are taken into consideration, the western Rukai can be further divided into four branches: the Dadele, Labuan, Kinunane (who do not have kinship relations with Dalumake), and Kucabugan (who migrated from Shikipalhichi toward the west).
The Rukai identity for its members is adjustable, depending on the people they encounter, so their identity represents a multilayered structure. The example of Duona Village illustrates this point. When the Duona people distinguish themselves from Maolin and Wanshan Villages, they emphasize language features, historical memory and “the Black Rice Ritual.” When they claim their identity lies in Maolin Township or the Xia-shan Tribe, they stress administrative districts, academic categorization, language features and historical memory to distinguish themselves from the Wutai Rukai and the Taitung Rukai. When they express their ethnic identity, governmental categorization of ethnic groups and cultural characteristics are the main factors for them to separate the Rukai from other aboriginal ethnic groups. Therefore, the community/village, Maolin Township/the Xia-shan Tribe, and the Rukai ethnic group are three tiers of identity. Each of them can encompass a different range of people. Even though these groups share the same foundations, members interact with outsiders on different levels, so they perceive different levels of ethnic belonging based on their corresponding perception of similarity and sense of belonging. In different circumstances, the people of the Xia-shan Tribe define various levels of identity by manipulating the meaning of their cultural heritage and social memories.

 

Geographical Distribution

Rukai distribution map

The Yanban Lane of Wutai Community of Rukai

The Rukai mainly live along two sides of the southern mountains of the Central Range. Two branches live on the western side of the Central Range: the western Rukai reside on the Ailiao river drainage area, and the Xia-shan Tribe resides on the Jhuokou River drainage area, a tributary of the Laonong River. One branch, the Danan, or the eastern Rukai, resides on the Lyujiia River on the eastern side of the Central Range. The first two branches mainly live in the mountains around five hundred to one thousand meters above sea level, and the third one lives on Taituang Plain along the feet of the mountains. Under current administration, the western Rukai villages include Haocha (Kochapokan), Ali (Adel), Jilou (Kinulan), Wutai (Butai), Jiiamu (Kanamotisan) and Dawu (Kaibwan) Villages in Wutai Township, Dewun (Tokupon) and Cingshan (Samohai) Villages in Sandimen Township, and Meiyuan Community in Sanhe Village, Majia Township, Pintung County. The Xia-shan Tribe villages include Maolin (Torlukan), Wanshan (‘Oponoho) and Duona (Kungadavane) Villages in Maolin Township, Kaohsiung County. The eastern Rukai live in Dongsing Village (originally called Danan Village, or Taromak) Beinan Township, Taitung County.
The distribution area of the Rukai is to the north of the Bunun and the Tsou’s territory, south of the Paiwan’s territory, east of the Bunun, the Amis and the Puyuma’s territory and west of the Paiwan Raval and Butsul territory, except for the Laonong River drainage area. In addition to inhabiting the main area, some Rukai people live far to the east of Dawu Mountain and the upper Taimali River.

In oral history, the place of origin of the Rukai is Kalaila which is near Daloaringa, Tiadigul (also known as Bayu and “Small Ghost Lake” in Mandarin) and Varokovok lakes. Kalaila is a mysterious and secluded place where gods live so the Rukai people must wear white clothes there; otherwise the gods (aididinga) will be offended and misfortune will ensue. According to the eastern Rukai, aididinga also means “spirits of the deceased.” After Sunaranara, there is a place called Cakov, four kilometers east of Bayu Lake, where a forked stone pillar is believed to be the gathering place of the gods (arakowa) in oral history. The Rukai believe that after aididinga leave the body, the spirit will pass Daloaringa, Varokovok, Auaura, Bayu and other lakes in order, then turn back to Wutou Mountain (Aurathuda) and North Dawu Mountain (Tagaraus) and finally live in Kavorogana (means the community of the deceased).

 

The Rukai newly weds drinking rounds

Rukai betrothal gift

Social Structure and Social Organizations

The Rukai have a hierarchical society with three tiers: the chiefs, the nobility (superior nobility and inferior nobility) and the commoners. Status of a person is inherited from the parents and passed to the next generation. The Rukai’s interpersonal hierarchical relations are perplexing, because of the distinction between stem families and branch families, cross-tier marriage (upgrade marriage and downgrade marriage), and the tendency to brag about personal status. Besides the three tiers, there is another social status, warrior, which is gained by personal ability and achievement. No matter whether the person is a noble or a commoner, as long as he hunts enemies’ heads, loots enemies’ weapons or kills several large animals, he can be granted the title of warrior by a consensus of the elders and the entire tribe, thus making him a military leader, and he can also upgrade his status if he is a commoner. This is one of the main methods for commoners to upgrade their status. The eastern Rukai have a Men’s House and the age system, in which young adults form a new age class after they pass the rite of passage at fifteen.

Family is a unit of social status, so one can recognize the status of a family as chiefs, nobles or commoners by their names. In other words, a person’s social status is also reflected in his family name. Family name and household are inherited by the first born child. His/her siblings build their own households and select new family names. Therefore, the stem family and branch families have a special social relation. For example, the Duona Rukai use the stove (tabalongane) as a symbol of the original family.

The term “Rukai tribe” implies several meanings. First, it is a geographical unit, but it does not equate to living area (lialikolo), because sometimes several neighboring living areas compose a tribe. Second, there are various relations among tribes. Some tribes are subsidiaries of other tribes, such as the Labuan and its neighboring tribe, the Didero; some tribes are tributaries of other tribes, such as the Kanamotisan (in Jiiamu Village, Wutai Township, Pingtung County). Kanamotisan was the Butai’s (in Wutai Village) farming land originally but the population of the Butai grew rapidly, and there was not enough land, so they gradually moved out and formed new tribes. However, according to their concept, these new tribes are still parts of the Butai tribe, so they still pay tributes to the chief of the Butai tribe and participate in the Butai tribal rituals. Geographical concentration and joint ownership of the land are two characteristics of Rukai tribes.

All of the tribal origin myths state that the noble families were the first people arriving on tribal land, so they occupied the land before other people came and gained ownership of the tribal lands, as well as acquiring privileges. According to “Chongg-xiu Taiwan sheng tong-zhi juan san: zhu-min zhi tong zhou pian” The Revision of the General Report on Taiwan Province: the third chapter(重修臺灣省通志卷三住民志同冑篇), the Rukai define land by its purpose, so public facilities such as roads, Men’s Houses, leisure places outside of the tribe, gathering places inside of the tribal area, enemy head racks, springs and public cemeteries belong to the entire tribe, and the natural resources and land under tribal jurisdiction, such as land, rivers, stones, trees, plants, animals and fish belong to the nobles and their families’ private property. Therefore, the nobles can collect taxes from the commoners based on their property rights.

Arable land (kadunangan) belongs to the noble families, irrespective of whether it is inside or outside of the tribe. Gradually, all arable land and construction land has become privately owned. Now it is very clear which land belongs to which noble family. If the commoners want to use the land, they need permission from the nobles and they must pay one fourth of the annual harvest, including taro and millet, to the nobles who own that land. The commoners who use the construction land of a noble to build a house (tangane) must send gifts to the nobles when they hold rituals of life cycle or annual rituals; for example, they give a part of the pig organs to the nobles who own the land when they sacrifice pigs in ceremonies, as a token of respect.

Taking Kochapongan (Haocha Village) as an example, in the western Rukai, the commoners can obtain decoration rights from the chief and the nobles through some ritual process and taxes (such as pigs and wine). This type of tax is called thimithimi (tax of granting privileges). The chief and the nobles can grant some privileges, including tattooing, decoration with lilies, cloth decoration and special names. The Xia-shan Tribe does not have this type of tax. Tattooing and decorating with lilies are not privileges of the chief and the nobles. Cloth decoration and special names are obtained only through marriage with the chief's family or the noble families. When an upgrade marriage takes place, the commoners have to give the nobles “upgrading gifts,” usually objects with high symbolic and economic values. Then the descendents from this marriage can use the name of the nobles.

 

Ritual and Religion

The Harvest Festival in Haocha village
on August, 9th, 2008- The picture of
goodwill princess, ambassador and judges

2008 Taromak tribe- The Swing Festival-
The contest of warsle

2007 The Swing Festival in kalalisiya,
Dongsing village- Dance together

Traditionally, the Rukai divide supernatural phenomena into five categories. First, the spirits, who are prayed to for better harvests and game. Second, anthropomorphic gods, who have the same emotions and personalities as human beings, are worshiped for their healing ability by spiritual mediators and witch doctors. Third, evil spirits who wander around the wild places are believed to cause misfortune and disease if humans offend them, and only witch doctors can solve these problems. Fourth, spirits of the deceased who die accidentally outside the tribe. Fifth, ancestral spirits, who include the spirits of the dead in general.

In modern Rukai life, both religion and rituals are not easily seen. The modern medical and educational systems have changed the way that the Rukai people explain natural phenomena, and Christianity has also superficially replaced their old faith. But, delving deeper, one finds that the Rukai people still use the same religious explanations for misfortune, especially for accidental death, and this fact shows the continuity of the original Rukai religion.

In the past, the roles of ritual leaders were usually inherited by the family leaders of some specific noble families in the tribe. The tribal priests and the noble families who were hosts of some rituals by inheritance would assemble members of the tribe to have rituals together at a certain time during a year, and at other irregular times for annual rituals.

The Rukai rituals include three main types. First, tribal rituals, such as the ritual before logging. These tribal rituals not only involve praying for good harvests but also fulfill the social function of defining the boundaries of the tribe. In addition to these rituals, they also have a ritual, held after the millet harvest, to foresee the tribe’s fortunes for the next year. Second, family rituals can define family membership and the relations between the stem family and the branch families. These rituals can be further divided into two categories, based on their purposes: agricultural related rituals and rituals that worship ancestral spirits and express gratitude to them. Third, rituals of life cycle define different stages in a person’s life and also grant that person the appropriate social status.

 

Art, Crafts and Music

Traditionally, larger items are made and carved by males, and weaving and embroidery are done by females. The commoners make their own household items and clothes. The chief and the nobles have special household items and wood and stone sculptures made by talented sculptors or sculptors assigned by the family. Their clothes are made by females in the families of chiefs or nobles. Sculptors are usually from the chief or the noble families so the knowledge of symbols and emblems is controlled by the chief and the noble families. Many sculptors grow up with the stories and meanings of these symbols and emblems told by their family elders; therefore, the symbols and emblems bring inspiration to the sculptors when they create new artwork. Females in the chief and noble families are also familiar with the meanings and forms of the symbols and emblems, so skillful women can easily draft art motifs for clothes from these symbols and stories. The chiefs and the nobles like to place these sculptures inside and outside of their houses.
 

Rukai Wood carving

Rukai Wood carving

Adir community in Pingtung
county- male long sleeves top

Kungadavan community center

Crafts made from wood cutting and wood gouging are commonly seen in Taiwanese aboriginal material art but the Rukai are especially known for wood crafts and wooden household items. The household items used by Rukai nobles are usually carved and decorated. The most common motif of the Rukai sculptures is the same as it is for the Paiwan, a human head with a snake body, but the design is slightly different, because the Rukai like to have two snakes back-to-back and the sun graphic, as well. The Rukai woven rattan items are similar to other Taiwanese aborigines’ rattan items but they can make more ingenious and diverse products. The herringbone stitch and hexagonal stitch are two main design patterns. Because the main production method of the Rukai is hunting, they are good at tanning leather, too.

Dancing is always combined with singing. No musical instruments are used in dances, but only songs sung by the dancers. Sometimes males and females will form two separate circles with females inside and males outside. They sing different tones to match their dancing steps. Women always dance in a slow and elegant manner, just the same as their songs, while men’s steps and songs are more varied.

 

Others

Kochapongan (Haocha Village) is the mother tribe of most of the western Rukai tribes. Both Adel (Ali Village) and Butai (Wutai Village) originated from Kochapongan, so Kochapongan is an “original” tribe. Old Haocha Village used to face North Dawu Mountain. It was located on the north bank of south Ailiao Creek and was opposite to other tribes near the north Ailiao Creek. The village was moved to New Haocha Village in 1977. In the early 1990s, some western Rukai people aggressively petitioned the government to rebuild Old Haocha Village and establish it as a grade-two monument, in order to revive the Rukai culture. In the meantime, the Rukai people also mobilized to oppose the government’s plan to build Majia reservoir at New Hoacha.
Due to the Aboriginal Cultural Park in Majia Township that began operations in 1987, exotic cultural tours have increased the development of the aboriginal handicraft industry in the neighboring areas, and many studios have been set up to produce all sorts of aboriginal handicrafts. Shueimen Village, in Sandimen Township, Pintung County, is a traffic artery for the Rukai and Paiwan tribes to the plains so it has a geographical advantage to both the tribes and the plains. Plus, the Aboriginal Cultural Park is now located there; therefore, many aboriginal artists and cultural workers have decided to reside there and formed a network.
In 1990, the Council for Cultural Affairs of the Executive Yuan proposed a policy of “Community Empowerment/Development” which has significantly affected all of the Rukai groups. Aside from establishing community development associations, they also held some activities such as searching for tribal origins, traditional ritual and ceremonial performances, activities to revitalize traditional crafts, traditional family name and location name restoration, and recording oral literature and tribal history. For the Rukai people, art and crafts handed down by ancestors are “cultural heritage” and “cultural properties” shared by all the Rukai so they are worthy of being maintained and preserved. In the context of tourism, arts and crafts have been modified and recreated as unique local features with economic values, and have eventually become new “cultural industries” in all of the communities.

我的e政府無障礙空間標章

Digital Museum of Taiwan Indigenous People ©Copyright 2008  Privacy Policy | Website Safety Policy
Address:No. 1 Museum Rd., Taitung, Taiwan. Tel:089-381166 Contact Us
Resolution: 1024*768,For Optimum Results:IE5.0 or above