中文

The Tsou

Historio-geographical Background

During what were the Middle Ages in Europe, the Tsou were prospering in central and southern Taiwan, but later they were forced to retreat into ever smaller areas by the influx and migration of a number of other peoples. These included the Bunun, who were pushing south, and, after 1600 A.D., the increasing number of Han Chinese settlers, as well as the aboriginal Siraya tribe. The aggressive expansion of the Bunun in particular forced the Tsou into the comparatively small territory they still inhabit today.

The Tsou are distributed across the mountainous area of Chiayi County’s Alishan Rural Township, with most of their settlements concentrated at the upper reaches of the Tsengwen and Chuoshui Rivers. In the east, in the lower-lying regions of Mount Jade (Yushan), their territory borders on that of the Bunun tribe, while their neighbors to the west (the Chianan Plain) are the Han Chinese, and those to the south the Rukai people. Very small numbers of the Tsou are also distributed over Kaohsiung and Nantou County, where they have mostly mixed with the Bunun.

Northern Tsou

The Northern Tsou are also know as the Alishan Group. They populate the area from the upper reaches of the Tsengwen River to Nantzuchiaowan on the left bank of the Chenyoulan River (today Nantou’s Chiumei Community). Nowadays, he Northern Tsou are usually divided into two distinct groups, the Alishan Group in Chiayi County and the Hsinyi Group in Nantou County.

The most important settlements of Alishan Group are Tapangu, Yimutsu and Tfuya, while the most important community of the Hsinyi Group is Luhtsu on the western bank of the Hoshe River (itself a tributary of Chenyoulan River in Nantou’s Chiumei Community).

Southern Tsou

The Southern Tsou, so named largely to discern them from their northern cousins, live in Kaohsiung County’s Sanmin and Taoyuan Townships, where they have mixed with the Bunun. The term “Southern Tsou” is also used as a collective term for the Kanakanabu and Saaroa Groups, which both live in the Sanmin area.

Another term that was formerly used (during the Qing Dynasty) for the Kanakanabu Group (distributed along the mountainous watershed area of the Nantzuhsien River, a tributary of the Gaoping River) is Gannabu (with various Chinese spellings). These are the people who today live in the Minsheng, Minchuan and Mintzu Villages along the No. 21 Provincial Highway.