中文

The Puyuma

Background

The Puyuma (aka Beinan) are concentrated on the plains south of the Taitung Longitudinal Valley, but some also live on the Hengchun Peninsula. Their name is derived from the name of the largest and most important of the tribe’s eight settlements, the Beinan Community (or Panglan Puyuma). Originally, the Puyuma were only a minor tribe distributed across what is today’s Beinan Township in Taitung County. But in spite of their relatively small population, they were a tough and fierce people who you’d neglect at your own peril. Pinarai was their most famous chief, widely renowned for his courage and resourcefulness. He went down in history as the “Beinan King”, and his power was so great that the mountain tribes had to buy his goodwill with millet and meat, while the coastal aborigines paid him tribute in the form of fish and cowry shells.

The Beinan King’s paramount position and their warlike spirit ensured that for a considerable period in Taiwan’s history, the Puyuma ruled supreme on the plains south of the Taitung Longitudinal Valley.

The Ami and Paiwan living in their vicinity often called them the “Panapanayan”, but this name later fell out of use.

Maritime Origins

One of the myths about the Puyumas’ maritime origins goes like this: back in the mists of time, a bamboo raft appeared on the ocean south of Taiwan. It carried a man and his wife, and the couple landed somewhere along the Taitung coast. They stuck the bamboo staffs they held in their hands into the ground, and they grew into flourishing groves of auspicious green. This mythical place is considered to be the birthplace of Taiwan’s Puyuma. The couple had two sons, the elder of which was the ancestor of Chipen’s Puyuma people, while the younger of which became the forefather of those who settled around the Beinan area. Both settlements thrived and became populous, but the Chipen community, being led by the elder brother, was originally the more powerful one. In later days, though, the Beinan group gained the ascendancy, and their settlement became the center of the Puyuma world.

The total of eight communities in which the Puyuma live is often referred to as the “Bashefan”, a name that’s been around since their earliest days on the island. The largest and most representative Puyuma groups today are those of Chipen and Nanwang.