中文

The Bunun

Background

Legend has it that in the ancient past the Bunun lived at the foot of the highest peak of Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range, Yushan (Mount Jade). Here the soil was fertile, and harvests were bountiful and rich. All kinds of animals would grow stout and strong. But one day a fierce storm arose out of nowhere, the earth shook and the skies ripped open. What was even more terrifying, a huge python wound its way across the rivers in the mountain valley. Soon the waters were flooding the mountainsides, submerging the Bunun settlements and sending the villagers running for their lives in panic. Taking whatever they could salvage, those who could fled with their families up the mountain until they reached the very top of Yushan.

In their own language, the word bunun simply means “people”. The Bunun were among the first aboriginal tribes to come and settle in Taiwan. Living among the towering peaks and steep precipices of the Central Mountain Range, the Bunun learned to move about the emerald forests with swiftness and agility, developing the deliberate poise and explosive power of wild animals. They have an intimate knowledge of their natural environment. Since they are perceived to be weaving in and out of sight with great alertness, and have been known to carry victims of mountains accidents downhill for treatment and care, only to miraculously disappear again, their elusiveness has earned them the name “Yushan Spirits”.

The Six Main Communities

  1. Taki-tudu: distributed across the area of Hsinyi Township (Nantou County)
  2. Taki-bakha: distributed across the area of Hsinyi Township (Nantou County)
  3. Taki-banuaz: distributed across Nantou County’s Hsinyi Township, Hualien County’s Chuohsi Township and Taitung County’s Hairui Township
  4. Taki-vatan: only about 2,000 of the original Taki-vatan community are left today. Not many of the Taki-vatan descendants still live in their ancestral area in Nantou County’s Hsinyi Township, and most of them have mixed with members of other communities. Those who moved away are now distributed across Hualien County’s Wanrong and Ruisui Townships, Taitung County’s Changpin Township, and other areas.
  5. Is-bukun: The Is-bukun make up more than half of the total Bunun population. This largest group is distributed across Nantou County’s Hsinyi Township, Kaohsiung County’s Taoyuan and Sanmin Townships, Hualien County’s Chuohsi Township and Taitung County’s Hairui and Yanping settlements.
  6. Tapukul: Originally distributed across Southern Taiwan, the Tapukul group mixed heavily with the Tsou Tribe. Today, they are usually registered as Tsou in official household records. The other Bunun call them “the Vanished People”.