中文

The Atayal

The Myth of the Origins of Hunting

This story is set in the early days, when the Atayal were roaming far and wide across the high mountains of central and northern Taiwan.

They were living happy lives, basking in the warmth and radiance of the golden morning sun rising above the peaks every day. In the wild land, tasty fruit, vegetables and roots were to be found everywhere. And whenever they wanted to eat some meat, all they had to do was to shout loudly, “I want to eat some meat!” Then the wild beasts would come forward, and the Atayal only needed to gently pull one single hair from the fur of an animal, cover it with a bamboo sieve and leave it for a while. Later, when they lifted the sieve, they would find many pieces of juicy meat—so many, in fact, that there was always enough for everybody who wanted some.

If they wanted to enjoy some wild vegetables or fruit, all they had to do was shout, “I want some vegetables!” or “I want some fruit!” and there, before you knew it, these things would appear right in front of you.

One day, a stranger came to the village, and the tribespeople did everything to make him feel welcome. The stranger declared, “I come from far away.” The Atayal replied, “Welcome to our village, and you’re welcome to everything we have!” Their guest was very happy to hear this and said, “Well, it seems you live in a paradise on earth here, I really like what I see!” The elders of the tribe answered, “If you like it here, why don’t you settle down for a while? You can stay with us as long as you want to.” This was echoed by the other members of the tribe, “Yes, stay as long as you want to…” Soon, the stranger was no longer a stranger, but a familiar sight. Whenever he wanted to eat something, be it wild vegetables, fruit, nuts or meat, he’d shout for it, and it would appear in front of him right away. Some more time passed, and the stranger had become a lazy and greedy person. He wanted to eat more nuts and berries and vegetables and meat all the time. One day, he was screaming for meat again, and when a mountain goat came running to him, the stranger took out a knife and cut a big piece of meat straight from the goat’s body. As the goat was rolling on the ground in agony, the stranger only laughed loudly. He was in high spirits, and didn’t pay the slightest attention to the animal’s suffering. The mountain goat finally stifled its pain and ran away. It was a big effort, and its body was still writhing. But before it left, it said a few words, “Now you have become lazy and greedy. Don’t think you’ll ever get anything for nothing again! In the future, you shall have to earn your food by the sweat of your brow; and if you want to eat meat, you shall have to go up deep into the mountains to hunt for it.” Then the goat disappeared.

The Atayal drove the greedy stranger out of their village. But that didn’t change the fact that from that day on, they had to work hard for their food, plowing and weeding the land, sowing seeds and bringing in the harvest. And they had to climb the high mountains to hunt animals when they wanted to eat meat. This is why the Atayal treasure their prey so much!