Paiwan people are distributed in an area with Dawu Mountain in the north, the Hengchun Peninsula in the south, Fanliao in the west, and Taimali (Tjavali) and Xinyuan (Kalurulan) Villages in Taitung City in the east, covering both sides of the Dawu Mountain, and the southern section of the Central Mountain Range across Pingtung and Taitung counties. Paiwan people separate themselves by lineage, custom, and ethnicity into the Ravar and the Vuculj subgroups.
The Ravar is led by the Tavaran/Tavaljan community in Sandimen (Santji) Township, with the Tavaran/Tavaljan being the tribal origin. Socioculturally, the Ravar are characterized by the lily wearing custom and a patriarchal social system, and are famous for their outstanding carving and pottery art. The Vuculj are mainly distributed among the Majia (Maka), Taiwu (Ulaljuc), Chunri (Kasuga), Shizi (Sisi), and Mudan (Butang) townships in Pingtung County, and Daren (Tacudjing), Dawu (Daibu), Jinfeng (Kinding), and Taimali (Tjavali) townships in Taitung County and Xinyuan (Kalurulan) Village in Taitung City.
The old settlements along the North and South sides of Mt. Dawu: Gaoyan (Padain), Fawan (Payuan), Jiaxing (Puljti), Guluo (Kuljaljau), and Laiyi (Tjalja’avus) are ancestral Paiwan settlements. Paiwan culture is characterized by the five-year ritual, equal gender rights, and the first-child succession system. Despite having business activities with the outside world during Dutch colonization and the Qing dynasty, the Paiwan have preserved their rich and complete ethnic culture and customs. Due to agricultural development, currency circulation, Japanese rule, and the indigenous management policy during Japanese colonization, the Paiwan culture and traditions faced many different challenges. The dissemination of Western religions after the R.O.C government’s restoration of Taiwan has increased the number of Christians converts in the tribe, and churches are seen in every community.