A taste of Piyaway Village, home of the Ayatal
By Oscar Escobar
Nestled in the heart of the central mountains of Taiwan, a little and ancient village is fed by the clear sky and the sound of the river flowing. It’s the Piyaway Village, home of the Ayatal Tribe. Once you get to there in the Fushsing Township, through a snake-back styled road, a feeling of peacefulness and quietness will invade your feelings. You will feel attracted by the sounds, by the textures, by the air. The Ayatal people are one of the most ancient people in Asia, and one of the Taiwanese aborigines. They were here even before the Chinese Qin dynasty conquered the island, even before the Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese called this island “Formosa”. And when they sing, you will be transported to the heart of the forest, to those ancient times where their sacred spirit ruled the mountain, when the men hunted and feasted together, the children played with toys made of wild grasses and the women danced around the fire. The first thing you will notice is the birds. The blue birds statues that rise on the walls which represents the now protected animal that crowded the forests, and the center of the hunt games that were held centuries ago. Atayal dresses feature geometric style, and the colors are bright and dazzling. Most of the designs are argyles and horizontal lines. This people still speak today their own language, as well as mandarin chinese. Atayal language exhibits similarities with other Austronesian languages, like Malaysian or Indonesian, because of the fact they came from the Asian mainland several thousand years ago. They originally lived by fishing, hunting, gathering, and growing crops on burned-off mountain fields. The tribe also still practices crafts such as weaving, net knotting, and woodworking and have traditional musical instruments and dances. Today, this ancient people are Christian, but there’s a vivid syncretism, a mix of their millenary religious...
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