The Gaoshan people 高山族


Chinese Name: 高山族

English Name: The Gaoshan people

Languages: Chinese 汉语

Total population: 4.01*103 (China mainland 2022)

Distribution: Mainly residing in Taiwan Province of China

The Gaoshan people  高山族
The Gaoshan people 高山族

Brief introduction

The Gaoshan people 高山族 are a collective name for the various ethnic groups of the Austronesian language family in Taiwan, China. The Gaoshan people are mainly based on rice farming, supplemented by fishing and hunting. The handicrafts of the Gaoshan people mainly include bamboo weaving, rattan weaving, cutting wood, carving, bamboo cutting and pottery making.

The Gaoshan people  高山族

The history of the Gaoshan people

Historically, especially before the Ming Dynasty 明朝, the name Gaoshan did not exist. The ethnic origin of the Gaoshan ethnic group is multi-source, but it mainly comes from the Baiyue 百越 on the southeastern coast of mainland China. After the Han residents immigrated to Taiwan, the aborigines were divided into two parts. Some settled in the plains and merged with the Han people. The other part is still settled in the mountainous area, less influenced by the Han nationality 汉族, and still retains the characteristics of the language, customs, and habits of the aborigines. The current Gaoshan nationality generally refers to this part of the minority.

The religion of the Gaoshan people

The Gaoshan people also retain the beliefs and rituals of primitive religions. Due to the influence of Han immigrants and Dutch and Spanish colonists, the religious beliefs of the Gaoshan people are complicated. They worship elves and believe in different gods everywhere.

The Cultures of the Gaoshan people

Gaoshan foods 高山族饮食

The diet of the Gaoshan people is dominated by cereals and rhizomes, usually millet, rice, potato, and taro. As for the production method of staple food, most Gaoshan people like to steam glutinous rice and cornmeal into cakes and glutinous rice cakes. Gaoshan people generally love to eat ginger, and some even use ginger dipped in salt as a dish. The source of meat mainly depends on the poultry raised at home. In many areas, fishing and hunting are also a supplement to the daily meat. Especially for the alpine people living in the mountains and forests, the prey caught is almost the primary source of daily meat.

The Gaoshan people  高山族
ginger 姜

Gaoshan clothing 高山族服饰

The traditional clothes of the Gaoshan people are colourful, and the styles of clothes vary from one ethnic group to another. There are generally four types of clothing styles for Gaoshan men. One is the northern type represented by the Atayal 泰雅人, Saisiyat 赛夏人 and northern Amis 阿美人. It is characterized in that two pieces of linen are sewn together to form a sleeveless outer jacket. The second is the central type represented by the Bunun people 布农人. It is characterized by deerskin as the clothing material, a deerskin vest with fur on the top, and a deerskin shawl on the outside.

The Gaoshan people  高山族
Gaoshan clothing 高山族服饰

The third is the southern type represented by Paiwan 排湾人, Puyuma 卑南人, Rukai 鲁凯人 and southern Amis 阿美人. It is characterized by a long-sleeved blouse with a placket and a half-waist skirt at the waist or a wide belt with its ends hanging down as a front skirt. The fourth is the Yami type of Yami people 雅美人 on Orchid Island 兰屿岛. Only tie a T-shaped belt made of thick cloth about three or four inches wide to cover the lower body.

Gaoshan women’s clothing types include short clothes and long skirts or long clothes and short skirts. Men and women of all ethnic groups in Gaoshan are heavily decorated, and the types of ornaments mainly include shell beads, shell feathers, and animal skins. They used these ornaments to decorate their bodies with dazzling decorations. Men, in particular, are decorated almost from head to toe when they dress up, and some men, especially their heads, have even more complex and colourful crowns than women.

Thorn ball 刺球

Thorn ball is one of the favourite sports of the Gaoshan people. It is popular in Pingtung 屏东, Taiwan and Chaozhou 潮州, Guangdong. It is held every five years and is very grand. This activity originated from ancient folklore. The general idea is that a long time ago, there was a brave young man in the Gaoshan tribe who guarded the fire in the world.

Suddenly, he found that a fierce tiger wanted to put out the fire. He stabbed the tiger with a long pole so that the fire in the world could be preserved. Later, in order to commemorate his heroic deeds and inspire the fighting spirit of the nation, this sport was widely carried out among the people.

The Gaoshan people  高山族
Thorn ball 刺球

The balls used in the thorn balls are made of palm bark, and the person who stabbed the balls will have good luck in the next five years and turn bad luck into good luck. The more you get stabbed, the more respect you will receive from the villagers, and possibly the affection of the girls. During the game, a special ball thrower throws the dumpling ball into the air, the pole holder dances the stick with both hands, and the dumpling ball that falls from the thorn wins. The event ended with a stabbing of a feather-filled ball.

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