Photographs and Information about Taiwan's Culture, Nature and People by Rich Matheson


Alas and Abas ©Rich Matheson.  My wife and her twin sister in Chou tribal clothing at her younger sister’s wedding in of an old photo. My wife’s Chou tribe mother with her mother in Namasia.My wife’s late mother and father. Dama Bali is Bunun tribe and Jina Nivu, Chou. Her father walked up to Alishan to collect his wife when she was fourteen years old. They had 11 children in the coming years. My wife likes to say, “What else is there to do when there is no electricity?” For the few years I knew them they were always laughing, a very natural, deep laugh.  Dama Bali loved to tell stories, but his Mandarin  Chinese was not great (he spoke Japanese and Bunun). He told a story of his grandfather being chased and caught by the Japanese in Taoyuan Village. He was tied to two Japanese and he threw himself off a cliff, killing both Japanese and effecting his escape.

I like to think it is true.

There is a story of a famous warrior, Istanda Lamata Sing Sing, who was involved in the Bunun resistance against the Japanese. My wife’s Indigenous family name is Istanda and her brother’s name is Lamata (Bunun given names stay in the family in a system to prevent inter-marriage). I would like one day to go on a fact-finding mission.


3 responses

  1. Mike

    “(Bunun given names stay in the family in a system to prevent inter-marriage).” That’s interesting, I didn’t know that’s why the names are passed down. So 1st son and 2nd son etc in a different family would have different names than your boys? I kind of wondered if everyone in the village that was a 1st-born was named Vaji, how the heck anyone would know who anyone is talking about!!!

    March 21, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    • Mike,
      “how the heck anyone would know who anyone is talking about!!!”
      Good question. In a big family like Alas’ there are lots of same first names. You have to say the father’s name first, then the given name, so Biung’s Dane’efu, Vilian’s Dane’efu or Dahu’s Dane’efu. If you yell, “Landun!” many heads may turn.

      March 22, 2011 at 1:35 am

  2. Mom

    Hi Rich,
    Very interesting to read about Alas’ family. I never met her father. Big brother Hosein certainly looks like him. Alas’ mom is very beautiful, as is Alas.
    Love you and Alas and Vaji and Vilian. Love Mom

    October 26, 2011 at 4:11 am

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