In the Amis language, tribes are called “niyaró, meaning fencing. This suggests that Amis defend their geographical space with fences and gratings. Vertically, Amis maintain political relations by means of the chiefdom and age hierarchy. Horizontally, they link family relationships through matrilocality. 1. Matrilineal Affiliation: Apart from the chiefdom and age hierarchy, matrilocality is another part of the Amis social system. Matrilocality in Amis society is characterized by matrilocal residence and the inheritance of property and clanship from the mother to the daughter. In the Amis tradition, women play an important role in matrimony. Before marriage, the husband must work voluntarily at the wife’s home for months and even years. After marriage, the husband must live at the wife’s maiden home.
After the 1960s, patrilocality gradually replaced matrilocality after the increasingly frequent contact with the outside world. As family property has since been inherited from the father to the son, patriarchy was thus formed. 2. Chiefdom: In Amis culture, the chief is the supreme leader of the tribe. A chief is elected from among local chiefs, representatives of each age class, and the representative of the priests. Kolas Mahengheng is the most famous Amis chief in the history of contemporary Taiwan. Kolas Mahengheng was a Farangaw Amis born in 1852. He was called Mahengheng because he was tall and had a powerful voice.
In the late Qing dynasty, Kolas Mahengheng traveled frequently among Amis tribes in the Huatung Rifted Valley and the eastern coast to mediate many tribal disputes and resistance incidents, such as the Cikasuan Incident and the Madawdaw Incident during Japanese colonization. In recognition of his achievements, the Taitung County government named the outer beltway toward the Taitung Railway Station Mahengheng Boulevard in 2000. 3.Age Hierarchy (Selel/Kapot): Amis males are divided into different classes by age to plan and implement tribal affairs.
At 13-14 years of age, Amis boys attend the assembly hall (sfi) to receive knowledge, service, and military training and education. During training and education, they are assigned to different age classes, each with an interval of 2-5 years, to live and learn together. Different types of tribal duties are also assigned to different age classes. The age hierarchy is designed to take up military, administration, and political functions, and each class has a specific name. The Amis have a large population and wide distribution. The age hierarchy of each tribe falls into the “name succession” and “name creation” systems. Mainly adopted by the Ámisay a Pangcah, the “name succession” system uses the fixed class names that have been used by ancestors. Mostly used by the Farangaw Amis, the “name creation” system names an age class based on an important event of a year, such as “ra Japan” means the era of Japanese rule, “ra Minguo” means the era of ROC rule, “ra Diannao” means the computer era. This suggests that the Amis maintain important tribal events with the class name. Age hierarchy and matrilocality show the gender role difference and social division of labor in family affairs (private) and tribal affairs (public) in Amis society.