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The Puyuma (Chinese: 卑南族; pinyin: Bēinán-zú; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Puyuma-cho̍k, Pi-lâm-cho̍k) are one of the 16 officially recognized indigenous peoples of Taiwan . According to official statistics, the number of Puyuma in August 2016 was 13,767 people. Nowadays, the Puyuma predominantly live in Taitung County in eastern Taiwan , with others spread across many cities. The social order of the Puyuma is dominated by matrilineality (also maternal line or maternal line). At the time of the Japanese colonial rule over Taiwan , the Puyuma were assigned to the Paiwan .


Legend of origin

According to traditional tradition, the Puyuma originally lived on an island, but due to severe flooding, the island was flooded. At the same time, heaven and earth darkened. The surviving Puyuma were only five people who were all siblings. They went to Taiwan in a small boat. But because of the darkness, they needed light. Therefore, two siblings turned into the sun and moon. The remaining three became the ancestors of the Puyuma.

Originally, the Puyuma divided into two groups: those who are said to be born of bamboo ( Puyuma ) and those who are said to be born of stone ( Katratripul ).


The Puyuma language belongs to the Formosa languages , a subgroup of the Austronesian languages . The Puyuma form different groups. Each language of each group is slightly different. In general, there are two major groups:

  • The language of the Katratripul is close to the language of the Rukai and the Paiwan , therefore the culture of these two indigenous peoples is clearly influenced.
  • The language of the second group of Puyuma is similar to that of the Americans . Although the Puyuma were first ruled by the Japanese colonial powers and then influenced by the Han Chinese, they did not lose their language and retained their own culture.


A puyuma

The Puyuma clothing is divided into many different types. The Puyuma wear different clothes to indicate gender, festivals or age. For example, men's clothing is blue, black and white, and colorful wrap leggings are worn with these main colors. The clothes of the old men consist of reddish sleeveless garments decorated with diamond shapes. The female Puyuma wear black and white outerwear, the tops with fine diamond embroidery and the skirts with flowers. The shamans wear special jewelry on their shoulders.

The Puyuma like to wear wreaths of flowers on their heads. When a festival, e.g. For example, if a wedding is taking place, the Puyuma wear wreaths of flowers on their heads to express their dignity. Even before the festival, men and women wear wreaths of flowers and also prepare wreaths of flowers for the old people to show their respect for the old people.


Festival of the monkey

Vasivas - Festival of the Monkey

Vasivas is an important step in the life of young men to be considered an adult. The festival consists of two special ceremonies. During these ceremonies you kill a monkey and then have to move it. Nowadays this custom is only practiced with imitation monkeys made from straw dolls. Two ways help the young man to drive away possible evils and strengthen his courage. There is also another meaning, which is that it trains the boy to follow and share. It also teaches him to respect the old people.

Festival of the Sea

In July there is a very special festival for the Puyuma: The Festival of the Sea. In the legend, the Puyuma learned to sow millet because of the help of the "great whale". That is why the Puyuma organize this festival every year to thank the "great whale". When the festival takes place, people go to the beach. The shaman preaches towards Lan Yu Island first . Then the participants of the festival throw their offerings (millet brandy and boiled millet) into the sea in the direction of Lan Yu Island. This is how the Puyuma express their gratitude for the harvest.


If the Puyuma made significant sacrifices in the tribe, all had to adhere to certain taboos. The hunting victim was special. The women and girls were not allowed to participate in this sacrifice. Because the Puyuma believed that in this way the self-confidence of men and the respect for them would be strengthened. Or worse, that the gods and ancestral spirits might feel challenged.

In everyday life, the fire always had to burn out in the house. If a sacrifice was made or there was an accident, the fire was not allowed to be turned off. You couldn't share a fire with a sick person either. Moreover, no fish or shellfish were eaten in the house, and no fish was eaten at all during the time of the sacrifice.

Nowadays all these taboos have almost no meaning in everyday life, but some are still strictly adhered to during the time of sacrifice.

Traditional belief and Christianization

The Puyuma worshiped their ancestors as gods, and believed that the ancestral spirits protected and blessed their descendants.

In their traditional beliefs, the Puyuma also worshiped gods of nature and witchcraft.

After the Second World War, this indigenous people, like others on the island, were proselytized. This is why the Puyuma beliefs merged with Christianity. There are many supporters of Protestantism and Catholicism today.


In ancient times it was a custom for the Puyuma to dye their teeth black. For the men, plucking their eyebrows or shaving was a symbol that they were of age and single. In contrast to the men, the girls were not allowed to do this. It was also popular for the Puyuma to tattoo themselves. This custom, originally considered beautiful, then gradually changed. Because of the tattoo, representatives of the nobility could be distinguished from the common people. However, this custom of tattoos no longer exists today.


  • 達西烏拉 彎. 畢 馬 / 田哲益 (2007). 認識 台灣 原住民 族 喜愛 花環 的 美麗 民族 - 卑南族: 族群 神話 (p. 28–29), 族群 語言 (p. 34), 族群 信仰 與 祭 儀 (p., 族群 服飾 (p. 50, 52, 54, 55). 台灣 原住 民族文化 產業 發展 協會. 台灣.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. '/' 應用 程式 中 發生 伺服器 錯誤. (No longer available online.) In: dmtip.gov.tw. Archived from the original on October 28, 2016 ; accessed on October 27, 2016 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.dmtip.gov.tw
  2. 為什麼 台灣 原住民 各族 大多 信 基督教? - 台灣 立 報. In: www.lihpao.com. Retrieved October 27, 2016 .