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Indigenous Culture Route

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    Indigenous Culture Route

In Taiwan, one should recognize and learn about the earliest inhabitants of the island, the aborigines and their culture.

Indigenous traditions tell us that the earliest Indigenous tribes were equivalent in structure to countries in modern times. Each tribe had its own tribal territory, tribal council, rituals and ceremonies, festivals and even foreign diplomats for contacting other tribes. Within a tribe, the leader was the chief, or the elder in a family. Since everything was organized similarly to a country, they believed that their tribes were nations.

To really explore Taiwan’s Indigenous culture, tourists should choose Maolin National Scenic Area, where there are several Indigenous groups, including: the Siasanshe Rukai of Maolin Township; the West Rukai of Wutai Township and Sandimen Township; the Paiwan of Majia Township; and the Bunun and Tsou of Taoyuan Township. To get a better sense of the extent of Indigenous culture, one should plan a two-day trip. If a guide with in-depth knowledge of the aborigines is present, tourists will experience a meaningful and rewarding trip!

Manah tainga (Hunting festival)

Manah tainga (Hunting festival)


The In the past, the Bunun were the only tribe whose scouts dared to go alone to reconnoiter other tribes. They were ferocious warriors.
They worship their ancestral gods, believe in spirits (good and evil), and within their legends all animals and plants came from transformed humans. Every four years the Bunun hold a “manah tainga” festival, to train their men to hunt, inform them of various taboos and rules, and to show reverence for their hunting heroes. They also celebrate their harvest. Within the Bunun tribe culture serves an educational purpose.

Miyatjgu festival

Miyatjgu festival


The Tsou have a traditional festival, the “Miyatjgu”. It is said that the spirit of their ancestors attach themselves to the collected shell beads. During the ceremony the priest brings these beads out and hands them to every person in the tribe briefly, as a symbol that the spirits of the ancestors will protect them. Then the elders throw the precious shell beads into the sky, for warriors to pick up, symbolizing the courage and wisdom that will be brought to the tribe by them.

Pottery, bronze knives, glass beads

Pottery, bronze knives, glass beads


The Rukai and the Paiwan are two tribes that share similarities within their cultures. They both worship the sky and land, and respect nature. They don’t worship ancestors, and their societies are divided into four classes: chiefs, nobles, warriors, and civilians. The eldest son inherits the position of chief.
They also have three treasures in common: pottery, bronze knives and glass beads.


Traveling Arrangements

Day One:

Taoyuan Township (*the Mountain Jelly Fig is a must try!) → Jiasian Township → Liouguei Township → Meinong Town (*try out delightful classical Hakka dishes) → Home

Day Two:

Day One:

Orientation at the Maolin NSA Visitor Center→ Lovers’ Gorge → Duona Suspension Bridge → Eat an Indigenous lunch at Dragon Head Mountain → Explore the Duona Stone Slab Houses in the afternoon and learn about Indigenous stone slabculture → Duona Hot Springs → Stayovernight at Duona Village B&Bs and immerse yourself in the culture of Duona

Day Two:

Head towards Wutai from Maolin → Yila → Shenshan → Lunch at Wutai (reservation required) → Majia Culture Park → Sandimen → Home


Tour emphasis


Cottonmouth snake totems in front of a house means that it is the home of a chief or noble (*Attention: This is a reminder that without the consent of the owner, please do not explore the inside of the house, and avoid making comments such as: “There is a TV inside?!”

Headdresses and clothing of men and women:

The cottonmouth stands for nobles, butterflies for agility, and the lily is the tribal flower. When men carry the lily it is a sign of a warrior; when women carry it is stands for chastity.


It is the privilege of the Rukai women (men are prohibited). By displaying their beauty and talent through their skill on the swing, women can attract the attention of the men.

Glass beads:

In the past only nobles owned these. These beads represented identity and class. Every glass bead has its own name and myth associated with it.


It is also known as matriarchal culture. When members of the noble class marry they must prepare betrothal gifts such as Yang Jars and Yin Jars.

Knife carrying:

A knife is the second life to a man. Ceremonial knives, work knives, and hunting knives all have their meanings and cultural purposes.

Songs and dances are a combination of power and beauty:

Songs and dances represent the context of Indigenous life.


Most knowledge about Indigenous culture was orally passed on from generation to generation, so the myths are very unique.

Stone slab culture:

Tourists can learn about the reason for stone slab houses, methods of differentiating between first generation and second generation houses, and telling the difference between male and female slabs.


Indigenous Culture Route

Indigenous Culture Route

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