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Atayal people

atayal people, atayal people sculpture
The Atayal Chinese: 泰雅; pinyin: Tàiyǎ, also known as the Tayal and the Tayan,1 are an indigenous group of Taiwanese aborigines In 2014, the Atayal people numbered 85,888 This was approximately 159% of Taiwan's total indigenous population, making them the third-largest indigenous group23


  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 Origins
    • 21 Genetics
    • 22 Folklore
  • 3 Culture
    • 31 Lifestyle
    • 32 Traditional dress
    • 33 Facial tattoos
  • 4 Atayal in modern times
  • 5 Notable Atayal people
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References


The meaning of Atayal is "genuine person" or "brave man"citation needed


Atayal sculpture in Wulai

The first record of Atayal inhabitance is found near the upper reaches of the Zhuoshui River However, during the late 17th century they crossed the Central Mountain Ranges into the wilderness of the east They then settled in the Liwu River valley Seventy-nine Atayal villages can be found herecitation needed


Taiwan is home of a number of Austronesian indigenous groups since before 4,000 BC4 Genetic analysis however suggests that the different peoples may have different ancestral source populations originating in mainland Asia, and developed in isolation from each other The Atayal people are believed to have migrated to Taiwan from Southern China or Southeast Asia5 Genetic studies have also found similarities between the Atayal and other people in the Philippines and Thailand, and to a lesser extent with south China and Vietnam6 The Atayal are genetically distinct from the Amis people who are the largest indigenous group in Taiwan, as well as from the Han people, suggesting little mingling between these people7 Studies on Mitochondrial DNA mtDNA polymorphisms suggest ancient migrations of two lineages of the various peoples into Taiwan approximately 11,000-26,000 years ago8 Nevertheless modern people are very interbred with Han Chinese immigrants

Recent DNA studies show that the Lapita people and modern Polynesians have a common ancestry with the Atayal and the Kankanaey people of the northern Philippines9

The Atayal are visibly different from the Han Chinese of Taiwan10 Intermarriage with Chinese also produced a significant number of Atayal-Chinese mixed offspring and celebrities such as Vivian Hsu, Vic Zhou, Yuming Lai, Kao Chin Su-mei


According to stories told by their elders, the first Atayal ancestors appeared when a stone, Pinspkan, cracked apart There were three people, but one decided to go back into the stone One man and one woman who lived together for a very long time and loved each other very much But the boy was shy and wouldn't dare approach her Whereupon, the girl came up with an idea She left her home and found some coal with which to blacken her face so she could pose as a different girl

After several days, she crept back into their home and the boy mistook her for another girl and they lived happily ever after Not long after, the couple bore children, fulfilling their mission of procreating the next generation The Atayal custom of face tattooing may have come from the girl blackening her face in the story



Traditional aboriginal designs are often found on modern buildings in Taiwan in places where aborigines traditionally live Here is an Atayal-inspired community center in rural Ilan County

The Atayal people have a well-developed culture They originally lived by fishing, hunting, gathering, and growing crops on burned-off mountain fields Atayal also practice crafts such as weaving, net knotting, and woodworking They also have traditional musical instruments and dances

The Atayal are known as greatcitation needed warriors In a practice illegal since the Japanese Colonial Era 1895 –1945, to earn his facial tattoo a man had to bring back at least one human head; these heads, or skulls, were highly honored, given food and drink, and expected to bring good harvests to the fields See Headhunting The Atayal were known to be fierce fighters as observed in the case of the Wushe Incident, in which the Atayal fought the Japanese

Lalaw Behuw was the weapon of the Atayals11 Traditional Aboriginal weapons have featured in movies12

Traditional dressedit

The Atayal are good weavers as well and symbolic patterns and design can be found on Atayal traditional dress The features are mainly of geometric style, and the colors are bright and dazzling Most of the designs are argyles and horizontal lines In Atayal culture, the horizontal lines represent the rainbow bridge which leads the dead to where the ancestors' spirits live Argyles, on the other hand, represent ancestors' eyes protecting the Atayal The favorite color of this culture is red because it represents blood and power

Facial tattoosedit

An Atayal woman with tattoo on her face as a symbol of maturity, which was a tradition for both males and females The custom was prohibited during Japanese rule

The Atayal people are also known for using facial tattooing and teeth filing in coming-of-age initiation rituals The facial tattoo, in Squliq Tayal, is called ptasan In the past both men and women had to show they can performed a major task association with an adult before they can tattoo their faces For a man, he had to take the head of an enemy, showing his valor as a hunter to protect and provide for his people, while the women had to be able to weave cloth A girl would learn to weave when she was about ten or twelve, and she had to master the skill in order to earn her tattoo Only those with tattoos could marry, and, after death, only those with tattoos could cross the hongu utux, or spirit bridge the rainbow to the hereafter

Male tattooing is relatively simple, with just two bands down the forehead and chin Once a male has come of age he will have his forehead tattooed As soon as he fathers a child, his bottom chin is tattooed For the female, tattooing is done on the cheek, typically from the ears across both cheeks to the lips forming a V shape Tattooing on a man is relatively quick, on a female it may take ten hours5

In the past the tattooing was performed only by female tattooists The tattooing was performed using a group of needles lashed to a stick called atok tapped into the skin using a hammer called totsin Black ash would then be rubbed into the skin to create the tattoo The healing may take up to a month5

The Japanese banned the practice of tattooing in 1930 because of its association with headhunting With the introduction of Christianity, the practice has declined and it is now rarely seen except on old people even though it is no longer banned However some young people in recent years have attempted to revive the practice5

Atayal in modern timesedit

The Atayal people reside in central and northern Taiwan, along the Hsuehshan mountains The image depicts the two major dialect groups of the Atayal language Main article: Taiwanese aborigines – Contemporary Aborigines

The Atayal people in Taiwan resides in central and northern Taiwan The northernmost village is Ulay Wulai in Chinese, about 25 kilometers south of central Taipei The name Ulay is derived from /qilux/, hot, because of the hot springs on the riverbank 1 The Wulai Atayal Museum in the town is a place to learn about the history and culture of the Atayal

In recent years the mainly Christian community of Smangus has become well known as a tourist destination, as well as an experiment in communalism13

Many Atayal are bilingual, but the Atayal language still remains in active use

Notable Atayal peopleedit

  • Kao Chin Su-mei, actress, singer and politician
  • Vic Chou, actor and member of pop group F4
  • Albee Huang, actress and singer
  • Yuming Lai, singer of rock duo Y2J
  • Irene Luo, singer
  • Joanne Tseng, actress and member of pop duo Sweety
  • Landy Wen, singer
  • Jane Huang, singer of rock duo Y2J
  • Vivian Hsu, actress

See alsoedit

  • Atayal Resort
  • Wulai Atayal Museum


  1. ^ Atayal, Digital Museum of Taiwan Indigenous Peoples
  2. ^ Hsieh Chia-chen & Jeffrey Wu February 15, 2014 "Amis remains Taiwan's biggest aboriginal tribe at 371% of total" Focus Taiwan 
  3. ^ Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, Executive Yuan, ROC DGBAS National Statistics, Republic of China Taiwan Preliminary statistical analysis report of 2000 Population and Housing Census Archived 2007-03-12 at the Wayback Machine Excerpted from Table 28:Indigenous population distribution in Taiwan-Fukien Area Accessed PM 8/30/06
  4. ^ Merritt Ruhlen 1994 The origin of language: tracing the origin of the mother tongue Wiley, New York pp 177–180 
  5. ^ a b c d Margo DeMello 30 May 2014 Inked: Tattoos and Body Art around the World ABC-CLIO pp 34–36 ISBN 978-1610690751 
  6. ^ Chen KH, Cann H, Chen TC, Van West B, Cavalli-Sforza L 1985 "Genetic markers of an aboriginal Taiwanese population" Am J Phys Anthropol 66: 327–337 PMID 3857010 doi:101002/ajpa1330660310 
  7. ^ Rachel A Chow; Jose L Caeiro; Shu-Juo Chen; Ralph L Garcia-Bertrand; Rene J Herrera 2005 "Genetic characterization of four Austronesian-speaking populations" PDF Journal of Human Genetics 50: 550–559 PMID 16208426 doi:101007/s10038-005-0294-0 
  8. ^ Tajima A, Sun CS, Pan IH, Ishida T, Saitou N, Horai S 2003 "Mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms in nine aboriginal groups of Taiwan: implications for the population history of aboriginal Taiwanese" Human Genetics 113 1: 24–33 PMID 12687351 doi:101007/s00439-003-0945-1 
  9. ^ http://wwwsciencemagorg/news/2016/10/game-changing-study-suggests-first-polynesians-voyaged-all-way-east-asia
  10. ^ http://wwwstuffconz/travel/destinations/asia/67390585/New-Zealands-long-lost-Taiwanese-cuzzies
  11. ^ http://nccurlibnccuedutw/bitstream/140119/34564/9/25900309pdf http://conferencemasaluorgtw/webadmin/upload/1-6-1-%E9%84%AD%E5%85%89%E5%8D%9A--%E4%BF%AE%E6%AD%A3%E5%BE%8Cpdf http://e-dictionaryapcgovtw/tay/4/DLTexthtm https://wwwflickrcom/photos/94448433@N00/5865993483 http://flickrhivemindnet/Tags/knife,laraw http://wwwflickrivercom/photos/tags/%E7%95%AA%E5%88%80/interesting/ https://wwwflickrcom/photos/talovich/5865996049 https://wwwflickrcom/photos/talovich/5866548974 http://etnicses/foro/indexphptopic=17005;wap2 http://wwwappledailycomtw/appledaily/article/forum/20070510/3462555/
  12. ^ "Archived copy" Archived from the original on 2016-09-13 Retrieved 2016-08-25  http://travelcnncom/hong-kong/visit/seediq-bale-401232/ http://savagemindsorg/2011/12/31/the-translation-of-seediq-bale/ http://screenanarchycom/2012/08/-fantasia-2012-wrap-allhtml
  13. ^ "Returning to the land of the ancestors" Taipei Times, Aug 10 2003 Accessed 10/21/06

atayal men, atayal people, atayal people sculpture

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Atayal people

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