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Although the Pinuyumayan people settled in the plains area with various ethnic communities and began contacts with outsider from a long time ago, they have maintained their traditions, culture, and lifestyle. They have a rigid age stratification organization and assembly hall system. Pinuyumayan witches are famous among ethnic groups for their powerful magic. Existing Pinuyumayan Rituals include the “Mugamut (Female Mowing Completion Ritual)”, “Masarut (Millet Harvest Ritual, Sea Ritual)”, “Vasivas (Monkey Hunting Ritual)”, and “Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual)”, where the “Mangayau (Annual Ritual)” is the largest ritual. Currently, the Pinuyumayan population is about 14,517 (as of January 2020).

Geographic Distribution

Historically, there are various transliteration terms for Pinuyumayan in traditional Mandarin Chinese. The term Pinuyumayan originates from the name “Pinuyumayan” of the Nanwang village (Sakuban village) of Beinan Township in Taitung. To distinguish the term as the demonym of the ethnic group from the term for the specific tribe of the group, some Pinuyumayan people have suggested the term “Pinuyumayan” as a new name.

There are two sources regarding the origin of the Pinuyumayan: “bamboo-born” and “stone-born”. The former comes mainly from people of the Pinuyumayan tribe, while the latter from those of the Zhiben tribe. The other tribes of Pinuyumayan also develop from these two main tribes after migration and resettlement. The Pinuyumayan people was a powerful ethnic group before the 17th century and reached a peak during the Pinadray period. As a leader respected by all tribes, it is said that the Sakuban led 72 tribes from different ethnic groups in eastern Taiwan, with influence reaching Yuli (Posko) Township in Hualien in the north and Hengchun Township in Pingtung.

In the 18th century, some of the clans migrated to the Hengchun Peninsula; they settled down successfully and extended the community to the south, such migration is called “sukaro”, which suggests “sitting in a sedan-chair” or “carried by people” in Paiwan language. During the Japanese colonization beginning at the end of the 19th century, the Pinuyumayan were ethnologically called the “Pinuyumayan” because they had eight tribes, known as the “eight-tribe indigenous people”. Today, Taitung City and Beinan (Pinuyumayan) Township in the Taitung Plain are the center of the Pinuyumayan. Some of them settled in Chenggong Town (Madawdaw) and Taimali Township (Tjavualji). Major tribes include the Zhiben (Katratripulr), Jianhe (Kasavakan), Nanwang (Sakuban), and Baosang (Apapolo) in Taitung City; and the Lijia (Ligavon, in Lijia Village), Taian (Tamalakau, Taiping Village in Taian Township), Shangbinlang (Alripay, in Binlang Village), Shabinlang (Pinaski, in Binlang Village), Chulu (Ulivelivek, in Chulu Village), Danadanaw (in Mingfeng Village), and Banjiu (combined with the Chulu) in Beinan Township. Currently, many Pinuyumayan have moved away from eastern Taiwan for development in the city and are active in different fields.



The Pinuyumayan people began agriculture with foxtail millet (Setaria italica). Later, they also grew Cannabis sativa (grains, flax), Glycine max (soybeans), and wheat. In the 18th century, King Pinadray introduced the techniques and equipment for growing Oryza sativa (rice) to bring the heyday for agricultural production and techniques. Due to policy encouragement and support, the area of paddy farming increased significantly during Japanese colonization. Since the 1960s, they have changed some crops to cash crops, including the sugar-apple (Annona squamosa) and the betel (Piper betle).


Traditionally, millet, upland rice, sweet potato, and taro are the staple foods of the Pinuyumayan people. Meat from hunting, fish and shellfish from fishing are their sources of protein. During festivals, the Pinuyumayan people wrap glutinous rice and salted pork with the leaf of the Alpinia zerumbet (shellflower) to make the shellflower millet dumpling or shellflower glutinous rice dumpling. This is a traditional Pinuyumayan food. The betel nut is indispensable to Pinuyumayan people’s daily life, it is also an important offering in Pinuyumayan rituals.


The Pinuyumayan people make clothes with flax. Traditional colors include red, yellow, and green. Decorations include black and white diamond patterns with gradation and with elaborate cross-stitch counted-thread embroideries. The Pinuyumayan people identify the gender and age group of people by clothing. Apart from enhancing social status identification, this is a way to demonstrate the defined social relationships within the ethnic group. Male clothing is differentiated by age group. Clothes for youths are the most dazzling, including the chest covering, black shorts, culottes, betel bags, and waist bags. For dress clothes, males carry a knife and glass beads or silver. The clothes for females reach marriageable age are the most fabulous, including the head scarf, top, belly binder, skirt, and leggings. When dressing up, the chief and the priest will wear feather headgear and a baldric. Witches have shoulder ornaments to mark out their special status. During rituals, the Pinuyumayan people make wreaths for people in the tribe or guests. When coming of age, youths can wear only the fern wreath (the same as in a funeral) in the Palakuan, the Adult Assembly Hall. After the coming of age ceremony or the funeral, they can change to a beautiful floral wreath. People who receive most wreaths at fetivals show good friendships and relationships with fellow people in the community. The wreath is also one of the most impressive ornaments to visitors.


The Pinuyumayan people are good at weaving tools with rattan or bamboo. With entrelac, herringbone, and hexagonal weaving techniques, they make lightweight and handy daily-life tools, such as the rattan basket, rattan bag, and the back basket. As a daily necessity, the mat woven with shellflower leaves is cool in summer and warm in winter. Bamboo is durable, lightweight and sturdy, it is commonly used to make tools such as the bamboo cups, smoking pipes, as well as fishing and animal traps.


Traditional Pinuyumayan architecture includes family houses, assembly halls, and ancestral shrines. The elevated guardrails for the male assembly hall carry a style found in Southeast Asian cultures.Depending on the permissions and purposes, Pinuyumayan buildings are divided into public and private buildings. The former includes the assembly hall, the ancestral shrine, and the watchtower; while the latter covers the family house, the barn, and the witch’s ancestral shrine.

◎ The family house is a rectangular building with a thatch roof and bamboo walls. Doors are opened on both long sides of the rectangle, while windows are on the shorter sides. The indoor layout includes beds woven along the walls and a stove made of 3 pieces of stones at the front. The barn is located at the rear wall corner where farming tools, such as the mortar and the pestle, are stored. Traditionally, the size of the family house represents the owner’s social status. The family house of the chief’s immediate family is the largest, while the family houses of his extended family and other people are smaller. The family house of neewly-weds is the most modest.

◎ Pinuyumayan assembly halls follow a stringent age stratification system. Males move in to Dakuvan, the Juvenile Assembly Hall at ages 12-13 to receive physical and hunting training and education. They move out of the hall after they get married. There are two types of assembly halls by age stratification Dakuvan (Juvenile Assembly Hall) and Palakuan (Adult Assembly Hall). The Dakuvan is a two-story building with a stairway. The living room has an umbrella-shaped thatch roof and is surrounded by a circular hallway. At the center of all living rooms is a fireplace. The Palakuan sits on a rectangular foundation. It is an oval-shaped building with a thatch roof and bamboo walls. Inside the hall there are bamboo beds and a fireplace in the center, which is the most important part of the hall.Palakuan (Adult Assembly Hall)Dakuvan (Juvenile Assembly Hall)

◎ Ancestral Shrine Patrilineal Ancestral Shrine

The ancestral shrine is a ritual venue, where most ancestral rituals and major events are held. Traditional ancestral shrines have bamboo walls and a thatch roof. Inside the shrine there are religious facilities such as the altar and the fireplace. The magic of Pinuyumayan witches is quite famous. They usually use magic for curing illness, exorcism, and benediction. Therefore, the witch ancestral shrine is also developed. A witch ancestral shrine usually sits in the west and faces the east. Deity shrines are placed in the northeastern corner, the most sacred place in the shrine.

Music and Songs

Pinuyumayan music is elegant and has clear rhythms. Most lyrics tell different stories, hence songs are rather poetic. Depending on the occasions, Pinuyumayan songs are divided into:

Ritual Songs: Pinuyumayan ritual songs are mainly used in rituals. Ritual songs are classified by people’s jobs and status in the community. For example, there are men-only songs for Vasivas (the Monkey Hunting Ritual), Mangayau (the Grand Hunting Ritual), and Mangayaw (Annual Ritual); and ancient “Irairao (Head-Hunting Ballade)”

Songs of work and gatherings are for women only, such as Work Song.

In modern society, Pinuyumayan music is still active and alive. Lots of people from the community write new songs and are influential in thepop music world. Many Pinuyumayan artists have become famous singers in the show business, such as Sen-pao Lu (Baliwakes, known as the founder of Pinuyumayan songs), De-fu Hu (Parangalan, Kimbo), Jian-nian Chen (Pau-dull), Hsiao-chun Chi (Samingad Blubluone), Hui-mei Chang (Kulilay Amit), Ming-jen Chen, and Hsieh-hsing Lu (Sangpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw).


Pinuyumayan dance reflects the gender and age differences in the ethnic group. In the dance, each person must follow the steps according to his/her social status. Pinuyumayan people have different dances for different rituals. For example, the dance in the Vasivas (Monkey Hunting Ritual), is characterized by warriors holding a shield in their hands and brave dance steps (also called the shield dance steps), and the “dance of spirits” (also called the brave men’s dance or the warrior’s dance) for thanksgiving and community protection.


Due to the influence of different tribes and community locations, there are slight differences in the Pinuyumayan language. For example, the Pinuyumayan language spoken by Pinuyumayan people from the south Zhiben speak with strong voiced sounds influenced by Paiwan and Rukai languages.While Pinuyumayan peple from the north are influenced by the Amis pronounicatioin; in addition, due to the frequent contact with the Han people, they also speak fluent Fulao dialect, commonly known as Taiwanese.


The political leader, priest, and witch play a professional role in different areas in the Pinuyumayan society to maintain the political, ritual, and healthcare needs of people in daily-life. The social relationship of Pinuyumayan males is represented by an age stratification and assembly hall system. While matrilineality is practiced, the clanship or lineal concept upon the mother’s lineage is emphasized in succession. Under the social influence and contact with the modern world, clanship has transformed to patrilineality.

Kinship Organization

Families sharing the same ancestor and the same family name belong to the same lineage. A lineage with a long history and a family name is called a “Big Lineal Clan”. A family split from a lineal clan with its own split families is called a “Small Lineal Clan”. A split family without split families is called a “Split Family”. A lineage usually consists of only one Big Lineal Clan and more than a dozen split families. A lineage sharing the same ancestor belongs to the same clan. Take the Zhiben Village (Katratripulr) for example. Under the Zhiben Village (Katratripulr), there are three clans, and each clan has a shared ancestor, a shared chief, and shared assembly halls. The clan leader also represents the clan to handle the community affairs.


According to the Pinuyumayan tradition characterized by matrilineality and matrilocality (uxorilocality), the first daughter of the family will inherit the lineal name or family name and family property. Today, traditional matrilocality is rarely seen.

Tribal Organization

Traditionally, the chief (ayawan) is the political leader of the community responsible for coordinating all major community events and leading the village in head hunting (decapitation) and war operations. The priest (rahan) is a man that takes charge of and leads rituals and ceremonies. The rahan is a knowledgeable sage who must be familiar with the calendar, meteorology, and history; know traditional songs and dances; and provide guidance for farming and daily life. The witch (na temaramaw) can be a man or a woman who use magic to cure people’s illnesses and restore their health.

Age Stratification and Assembly Hall

Pinuyumayan juveniles aged 12-13 move into the Juvenile Assembly Hall (Dakuvan) to receive rigorous training, including physical and knowledge training, for 6-7 years. At age 17-18, Pinuyumayan juveniles will move to the Adult Assembly Hall (Palakuan) to receive further skill training falling into 4-5 stages. Members must obey their seniors, take up more labor work, and learn skills including racewalking, wrestling, survival in the wild, and hunting. In the awake of the importance of the traditional culture, the Pinuyumayan people built new assembly halls, established the youth association, and culture association in Zhiben (Katratripulr), Chulu (Ulivelivek), and Nanwang (Sakuban) in 1991; they started the pursue of searching their historical roots and revitalization of their mother tongue.


According to the Pinuyumayan folk beliefs, there are biruwa (spirits) everywhere, including the god of nature, the god of heaven and earth, the god of directions, the god of people making, and the spirits of ancestors and the dead. There are good and evil spirits. Before farming, harvest, and hunting, the Pinuyumayan people will pray to the spirits to show their respect and faith. In addition to natural spirits, ancestral spirts affect the luck and fortune of individuals. Therefore, they also worship ancestral spirits in benediction and rituals. Pinuyumayan witches have powerful magic, making them famous in other nearby ethnic groups and regions.

Divination is popular to Pinuyumayan witches. They predict opportunities and development based on signs in the natural environment. Divination is practiced based on dreams and birds. In addition to folk beliefs, the Pinuyumayan people accepted the religions of the Han people and Christianity from the Western world. As a result, the religions from all three sources exist in their daily life. Due to the revival and revitalization of traditional rituals in 1981, people began to value and discuss traditional Pinuyumayan beliefs and religions.

Based on tradition and religion, Pinuyumayan rituals fall into two main types: (1) Agricultural Rituals, such as the Masarut (Millet Harvest Ritual) and the Mugamut (Female Mowing Completion Ritual); and (2) Life Rituals, such as the Vasivas (Monkey Hunting Ritual) and the Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual). Regular annual Pinuyumayan rituals include:

March: Mugamut (Female Mowing Completion Ritual)

April: Ruvuwa’an (Ancestral Landing and Cradleland Ritual)

July: Masarut (Millet Harvest Ritual)

December: Annual Ritual (Vasivas (Monkey Hunting Ritual), Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual))

Mugamut (Female Mowing Completion Ritual)

The ritual is held in March after the completion of mowing by the female mowing team. In the ritual, a witch prays for blessings with glass beads, women tap the bronze cup bell running and shouting slogans until they pick up the piper betel, a present prepared by men in the village, from the place where the men put it. Then, women bring the piper betel back to the ritual venue to symbolize unification. After returning to the village, a communion, interesting competitions, and other activities continue.

Mugamut (Female Mowing Completion Ritual)

Ruvuwa’an (Ancestral Landing and Cradleland Ritual) Every April, the priest and the witch will take the Pinuyumayan people from the Katratripulr (Zhiben Village) and Kasavakan (Jianhe) Villages to the ancestral landing site to worship ancestors and hold the ritual (Ruvuwa’an).The ritual is simple but solemn, bringing about profound historical and cultural meanings.

Masarut (Millet Harvest Ritual)

The ritual is held based on each extended family for 3-7 days. One night before the ritual, the priest will make a dream divination and practice exorcism. In the ritual morning, women with good dreams will prepare betel nut offerings with three glass beads in the millet field. Then, they will cut down millet ears and cover them on the betel nut with glass beads. They will also bring a bundle of millet ears to the priest’s house for the priest to tie them up on a bamboo. When seeing the bamboo with millet ears is erected in the priest’s yard, people know that the ritual is over and they can start harvesting. In addition, various cultural activities will be held. Some communities will set up swings in the square in front of the assembly hall. It is said that the higher a swing swings, the taller and more the millet will grow, suggesting good wishes for agriculture. The Pinuyumayan people also set the swings to keep children from disturbing the ritual. Today, this has become a special cultural activity.

Mangayaw (Annual Ritual)

“Mangayaw (Annual Ritual)” is the biggest Pinuyumayan event held between the end of a year and the beginning of a new year. It is a collective term for two rituals: “Vasivas (Monkey Hunting Ritual)” and “Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual)”. This three-week event is the largest Pinuyumayan ritual.

Vasivas (Monkey Hunting Ritual) is an activity training juvenile courage, and the Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual) implies survival in the wild and head hunting and is proof of the youths’ capacity in homeland defense. Celebration and exorcism (remavaravas) are the reunion after the event to comfort families with members (both genders) who have passed away in the year. As Mangayaw (Annual Ritual) is the biggest Pinuyumayan event, people make wreaths, prepare food, and brew wine before the event. Roadblocks are erected around the village to prevent the intrusion of evil spirits. They will also repair the assembly halls and set up the altar and the monkey sacrifice altar. In recent years, the joint ritual has been developed to become an important event for the communion among villages and to develop ethnic awareness.

Vasivas (Monkey Hunting Ritual)

The ritual is usually held at the beginning of the last ten days of December. On that day, juveniles will kill a monkey with a spear to develop their courage. Traditionally, the ritual is held one night before the killing of the monkey. Juveniles will take off their tops, camouflage their faces with charcoal ash, and hold a banana leaf to exorcise each household. As time has gone by and due to societal changes, grass monkeys have replaced real monkeys in the ritual.

Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual)

The Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual) is the annual hunt of the Pinuyumayan. The men’s coming of age ceremony and the grand hunting ritual are closely correlated. Men must pass the Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual) before they can become adults. Today, the Mangayau (Grand Hunting Ritual) is held at a fixed location for three days from December 27-31. In the ritual, the Pinuyumayan people erect camps and catch prey in the wild, and elderly people will teach them the skills for survival in the wild and hunting. At the end of the ritual, women will set up a bamboo arch of triumph outside the village entrance and wait for the men there. After the men return, the women will change their clothes for them. Everyone begins a celebration and comforts the families with members (both genders) who have passed away in the year.

Mangayaw (Joint Annual Ritual)

In 1982, the Mangayaw (Joint Annual Ritual) was introduced. The exact ritual time is not fixed but is determined by the council of communities through discussion. The joint ritual is held by different villages in turn, with contents including singing and dancing, competitions, and so on. From an event of individual villages to a joint ceremony of all Pinuyumayan communities, the Mangayaw (Joint Annual Ritual) has become an important event for Pinuyumayan people to develop ethnic attachment.