746 is the number of indigenous villages ratified by Council of Indigenous Peoples, Central Government Taiwan from 2010 until 2015. A complete list of all villages can be downloaded from the CIP website. Gateways is a personal project by which I hope to visit these villages and take back as witness a photo either of the arch gateway or of any decorated monument at the village's entrance.
After Sinevaudjan and Manju, I moved on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 northwards towards Sisetu Township. A large part of Sisetu marks the traditional territory of a powerful Paiwan chiefdom Tjakuvukuvulj since the Dutch Period until Japanese Occupation. Among the current seven administration areas, Paiwan inhabitants of the region can at least recognize (and have the government ratified) fifteen traditional villages. In total, Sisetu is now home to 15 Paiwan villages, 1,721 households and 5,348 inhabitants.
Starting from Hengchun, I decided first to take Provincial Highway 26 (a.k.a Ping-E Highway) for five villages to the border of Kasuga Township, then drove back for Provincial Highway 9 (a.k.a South-Link Highway) for nine villages along the highway, and finally, turned right into County Road 199 for the old chiefdom headquarter Tjakuvukuvulj.
Tjuruguai (100 households / 299 villagers) is the first Paiwan village on the road, which spreads itself on along the northbound lane of Provincial Highway 26. Perhaps geography forbids the construction of an arch gateway; indeed, where do you count the entrance to a wayside village?
Nansiku (123 households / 382 inhabitants) is the northernmost Paiwan village in Sisetu. In addition to traditional Paiwan symbols, the village's gateway also proudly demonstrates the cash crop that sustains the entire community: mango.
Sisetu claims the largest mango plantation in Taiwan; its climate is perfect for growing the best kind. Therefore, Paiwan villages here can be called the mango-basket of the island.
Kacedas (196 households / 691 inhabitants) is connected with Nansiku via a short assess road. Assess or contact roads between villages are maintained by township administration and best used by local residents driving in motorbikes, pickups or four wheel drives other than walking due to their conditions.
This contact road inKacedas and Nansiku, however, is probably among the best! South-link railway also stops here. There is a train station.
Gateway to Tjusinlung (left)
Gateway to Qaljecim (below)
Both Tjusinlung (81 households / 251 inhabitants) and Qaljecim (92 households / 312 inhabitants) count for one Sisetu Village for the township administration.
Unlike its counterpart between Nansiku and Kacedas, the contact road connecting the two proved too treacherous for my Nissan to go through, so I was prevented from enjoying that part of the mountain and resorted to the coastal highway.
On the day I traveled, I spent some time standing by the gateway and looking out to the sea. More than five liners were cruising in a distant on the grayish water, breeze wishing and birds chirping. Here is a perfect spot for tranquility.
Kaidi (408 households / 1308 inhabitants) stands at one end of South-Link Highway. From here I started to drive eastbound on the highway. This village is the seat of administration of Sisetu; facilities such as the township office, library, council, police station and so on can be accessed here.
Considering the layout of villages in Sisetu, Kaidi is probably the best location. It also is just next to Feng-gang, the proud hometown of the current president of Taiwan.
Curiously, Yungkilu (164 households / 491 inhabitants) divides itself in halves; one part belong to the administration Kaidi or Feng-ling, and the other to the administration of Danlu.
Again, Danlu comprises of four Paiwan villages: part of Yungkilu, Pasumaq (97 households / 310 inhabitants), Tjacekes (79 households / 276 inhabitants) and Lemiyau (58 households / 140 inhabitants). On the map from west to east, Yungkilu meets the visitor first, followed by Pasumaq, Tjacekes and Lemiyau.
Nevertheless, although both Pasumaq and Tjacekes are bigger in size, the smaller Yungkliu and Lemiyau seem to be better cared for with proper identity-asserting entrances.
Before South-link Highway meanders through the southern section of Mount Central Range in line with Feng-gang River, ancestors of Paiwan have long ago occupied the few slots of cultivable land in the region. Many were witnesses to many eastbound expeditions since the seventeenth century, and still are today to the flow of tourism.
Gateway to Puljekuwan (blow left)
Gateway to Kuangka (below right)
Like Danlu, Tsaopu is also comprised of four Paiwan villages: (from west to east) Tjisaulem (54 households / 159 inhabitants), Puljekuwan (41 households / 141 inhabitants), Kuangka (83 households / 253 inhabitants) and Tjinavanavalj (58 households / 195 inhabitants).
I was actually surprised to find the gateways in Tsaopu so homely. This is the village whose elementary school choir has won large Taiwan and international audience, yet nothing in sight could help me make that connection. Guess it takes more than eyes and presence to truly see an indigenous village, pace Anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942).
Leaving Provincial Highway 9, I took a right turn and started a southbound route on County Road 199. Here lies the last, but never the least, Paiwan village in Sisetu: Tjakuvukuvulj (87 households / 230 inhabitants).
Thanks to the efforts of people, including a Paiwan historian and a retired school principal Yeh Shen-bao, the story of Tjakuvukuvulj being a powerful chiefdom since the seventeenth century was uncovered in articles, dissertations and even bilingual (Paiwan-Dutch) animation. I helped the project in 2010 by translating and dubbing the Dutch text. My Paiwan is yet to improve.
In history, it is always exciting to hear a different voice to the same story. When the voice is from one of the participants, the excitement skyrockets in spite of the upshot. Today, Tjakuvukuvulj is just like any other indigenous village on the island, sleepy in a summer day. Yet, amidst the smoke rising up from the dormant village, I will always see the giant in its yesterday glory.
Shizi 獅子村：Tjusinlung 中心崙部落、Qaljecim 和平部落
Feng-lin 楓林村：Kaidi 楓林部落、Yungkilu 新路部落
Dan-lu 丹路村：Yungkilu 新路部落、Pasumaq 下丹路部落、Tjacekes 上丹路部落、Lemiyau 伊屯部落
Tsaopu 草埔村：Tjisaulem 雙流部落、Puljekuwan 下草埔部落、Kuangka 橋西部落、Tjinavanavalj 橋東部落
(Gateways to be continued)