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Indigenous Offering Ceremonies
Indigenous Offering Ceremonies

 

Offering ceremonies display how people live and act according to the seasons of a year. These ceremonies also reveal the harmonious interaction between human beings and the natural environment. Aborigines, who traditionally subsisted on farming, fishing, and hunting, believed that the success of these activities relied on the blessings from spirits of gods and ancestors. Therefore, offering ceremonies were held to pray for these blessings. Offering ceremonies show the cultural essence of the beliefs, social organizations, traditions, and taboos of each tribe.

In the past, millet was the staple crop for indigenous people in Taiwan. Millet was traditionally regarded as a sacred symbol and was highly regarded. As a result, complicated ceremonies were held during all activities from sowing to harvesting. These ceremonies include the sowing ceremony, weeding ceremony, harvesting ceremony, depository ceremony, and several others.

In addition to agricultural ceremonies, each tribe had its own ceremonies according to their own natural environment. Hunting was an important livelihood for tribes who lived on high mountains. The ear shooting ceremony of the Bunun and the great hunting ceremony of the Puyuma were held for such purposes. While the Amis, who lived on the seaside, had river and sea ceremonies and the Tao had the flying fish ceremony. These ceremonies reveal the traditional lives of each tribe. Beliefs in the spirits of ancestors and historical traditions of indigenous people can be seen through the five-year ceremony of the Paiwan, the Maho ceremony of the Atayal, and the dwarf spirit ceremony of the Saisiyat.

Minority ethnic groups in southwest China live in a similar natural environment like that in Taiwan. Many live on the efforts of farming, fishing, and hunting. As a result, they have similar ceremonies to those of the indigenous people in Taiwan. Compared with the indigenous people in Taiwan, minority ethnic groups in China have been heavily influenced by Han culture for more than two thousand years. Offering ceremonies such as the Buddha Washing Festival of the Dai and the Redeeming Wishes Festival of the Miao have been heavily influenced by Buddhism and Han culture.

The traditional life styles of indigenous people and minority ethnic groups have changed along with the times. Many offering ceremonies have been held by the government for the purpose of cultural tourism. Indigenous people have endeavored to preserve their traditional culture and ceremonies are held to symbolize ethnic and cultural identification. Tourists who attend the ceremonies will be touched by longings for the traditional culture demonstrated in ceremonies through the singing and dancing of the indigenous people in Taiwan who struggle between traditional and contemporary life.

 

Related Links

Buddha's Washing Pavilion in Buddha Temple | Original tribe: Baiyi
Buddha's Washing Pavilion in Buddha Temple | Original tribe: Baiyi
Getting Water on the Eve Before Buddha's Washing | Original tribe: Baiyi
Getting Water on the Eve Before Buddha's Washing | Original tribe: Baiyi
Buddha's Washing | Original tribe: Baiyi
Buddha's Washing | Original tribe: Baiyi
Buddha's Washing Pavilion |  Original tribe: Baiyi
Buddha's Washing Pavilion | Original tribe: Baiyi
Flowers and Trees Planted Outside the Camp After Buddha's Washing | Original tribe: Baiyi
Flowers and Trees Planted Outside the Camp After Buddha's Washing | Original tribe: Baiyi
Flowers and Trees Planted Outside the Camp After Buddha's Washing | Women Playing Swings  | Original tribe: Baiyi
Flowers and Trees Planted Outside the Camp After Buddha's Washing | Women Playing Swings | Original tribe: Baiyi
Monks Play Tops in Buddhist Temple | Original tribe: Baiyi
Monks Play Tops in Buddhist Temple | Original tribe: Baiyi
Buddha's Washing Pavilion | Original tribe: Baiyi | The original title was Children in Buddha Temple. The children refer to monks. The Han people call the temples “Mian-si” and playing tops is called “Duo ma kang” by the Dai People. A top is wound with a string, pulled, and spun on the ground. Another top is also wound with a string, pulled, and spun toward the top already spinning on the ground. The string is not used to hit the top. There are two branches of Dai people, the Dai-de (water Dai) and the Dai-le (dry Dai), and there is a significant difference when playing tops between the two branches. For the latter, playing tops is systematic and serious, and it is limited to the period during the Han people's New Year, during which it is compulsory. For the Dai-de, tops can be played at any time. Whether Chinese New Year (the Han people's New Year) is celebrated or not is another big difference between the Dai-de and Dai-le. Chinese New Year is celebrated by the Dai-de but not the Dai-le. Chinese New Year is called Jin Ling Xi and literally means “Eating in April.” Chinese New Year falls in April in the Dai-le calendar, but in March in the Dai-de calendar. During the “Eating in April” festivities, the Dai-le must play tops for two days, one in the old year and one in the new. The Dai-le believe that playing tops will bring forth “Meng-li,” or peace through the lands, so top playing can be regarded as a religious game. People in one camp also have to complete with other camps, and sweet rice dumplings or other snacks are provided by the host of the camp. Both branches allow only the men to participate in top playing. No location or camp name is shown in this photo so it is not easy to identify the area. The photo was taken in November, not during the Han New Year, so it must have been taken with the Dai-de.
Buddha's Washing Pavilion | Original tribe: Baiyi | The original title was Children in Buddha Temple. The children refer to monks. The Han people call the temples “Mian-si” and playing tops is called “Duo ma kang” by the Dai People. A top is wound with a string, pulled, and spun on the ground. Another top is also wound with a string, pulled, and spun toward the top already spinning on the ground. The string is not used to hit the top. There are two branches of Dai people, the Dai-de (water Dai) and the Dai-le (dry Dai), and there is a significant difference when playing tops between the two branches. For the latter, playing tops is systematic and serious, and it is limited to the period during the Han people's New Year, during which it is compulsory. For the Dai-de, tops can be played at any time. Whether Chinese New Year (the Han people's New Year) is celebrated or not is another big difference between the Dai-de and Dai-le. Chinese New Year is celebrated by the Dai-de but not the Dai-le. Chinese New Year is called Jin Ling Xi and literally means “Eating in April.” Chinese New Year falls in April in the Dai-le calendar, but in March in the Dai-de calendar. During the “Eating in April” festivities, the Dai-le must play tops for two days, one in the old year and one in the new. The Dai-le believe that playing tops will bring forth “Meng-li,” or peace through the lands, so top playing can be regarded as a religious game. People in one camp also have to complete with other camps, and sweet rice dumplings or other snacks are provided by the host of the camp. Both branches allow only the men to participate in top playing. No location or camp name is shown in this photo so it is not easy to identify the area. The photo was taken in November, not during the Han New Year, so it must have been taken with the Dai-de.
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