rambling physically and mentally in Wulai, a Tayal aborigine village in the mountains an hour's drive south of Taipei; various and sundry comments, criticisms, analyses, and snide remarks. email@example.com
Facial tattoos have long been an important Tayal institution, but to bring them under control, the Japanese warlords banned the practice during their occupation of Taiwan. There has been much talk of reviving the tradition, but for men, the qualification was headhunting, which has also been banned. Other qualifications have been suggested, such as success at hunting (otherwise known as poaching) boar.
Abus, a Wulai Tayal, has long wanted to have his face tattooed, and I have egged him on for years. He has always been wary of the taboos connected with the tattoo, but finally, he thought of a way to get around that. Traditional tattoos for men were vertical. He got horizontal tattoos.
He said, "祖先哪有甚麼麻醉藥？沒有，要忍！所以我去文面的時候，我就不用麻醉，我就忍。Mxan balay!!很痛！！Our ancestors had no anesthetics, so when I got my tattoos done, I refused anesthetic. It hurt!!"
(I took this photo the other night with my cell phone. I’ll try to get a better one, with a camera during the daytime, and post it.)
About ten years ago, a typhoon blew down a large cherry tree nearby. I cut it into sections about four feet long and brought it home to cure, and then carve. I must not have stored it properly, because it rotted.
I left it where I put it. Recently we bought a wood burning water heater, so I figured I might as well saw up the cherry wood and burn it. When I put saw to wood, I discovered that even though the outside had rotted, the heart was red and rock hard.
Through years of hostile conditions, inferior wood rots to the core. On the surface, good wood may not look great, but its heart is stronger than before.
People are like that, too.
The Jingpo (景頗, Jinghpaw, Kachin) at the highest level of government office is Mr Huang Yi, the Vice Governor of Yunnan Province. Among his many other offices is Honorary President of the Yunnan Cross Strait Exchange Association. He is in Taiwan now, leading a delegation of the Association.
He made time to visit Mr Zit Hkun Chang Sau (孔大發先生), President of the Taiwan Jingpo Association, who invited us to come along. Former President Xu Lang Ying (閻光明先生) is in the hospital, and unable to come. Mr Chian Mingyou (簡明有先生) of the Burmese – Chinese Association, who first invited me to Jingpo activities six or seven years ago, was along, as was Dr 何翠萍女士 Ho Ts'ui-p'ing, an anthropologist at Academia Sinica who studies the Jingpo. First we met at the 雲南同鄉會 Yunnan Association in Taiwan, and a small group went to a Yunnan restaurant for lunch. Zit Hkun had told me he was going to come in traditional Jingpo dress, but showed up in a dapper suit and tie. I asked what happened to the Jingpo outfit? He said, You can't wear a Jingpo outfit without a sword, and I just couldn't get on the bus wearing a sword, so I decided that rather than come without a sword, I would wear conventional clothing.
Mr Huang had met Zit Hkun some years ago when he (H) led a Jingpo delegation to Taiwan, so they had a lot to catch up on. Zit Hkun also had to catch up on his Jingpo. After so many years in Taiwan, he has lost some of his native language. Huang spoke to him in Jingpo, and Zit Hkun answered in a mixture of Jingpo and Mandarin, causing considerable mirth among the company. Jingpo came back to him very quickly with use.
Mr Chian is Chinese from Burma. He grew up in central Burma speaking Jingpo, and indeed went to Jingpo language schools until he was 12, when his father said, We're Chinese, you have to improve your Chinese language skills.
Huang presented Zit Hkun with a Jingpo turban and bag, as well as books with invaluable records of the Jingpo, including one of the Burma Road from WWII. Dr Ho, who has known Huang for many years, was presented with a scarf ("A Jingpo khatag"). To our surprise, Huang gave a Jingpo hat to me, and a scarf and bag to Chao, along with several books about the Jingpo.
But all in all, I have to say, we sorely missed Lazum wan Bau/金國光先生, who died a year ago. I wish he could have been there.
"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be under the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." James Madison said that.
The chief of TSA says if you do not submit to the scanners, you are causing delay.
Right. They install these useless, time wasting procedures to chip away your Constitutional rights, and if you do not meekly go along, you are the one causing the delays.
Terrorists aim to spread terror and cause fear. They won.
Mwah qutux byahoq ngasan ta soni.
This afternoon, I went outside to watch a flock of crows, maybe forty all told. Suddenly, a Muller's barbet, maybe flying too fast, maybe confused by the fog, flew into the side of our house and knocked itself silly.
It perched on my hand. I comforted it for about ten minutes, and then it flew away. In a moment, I had lost it in the trees.
In my mother’s day, children were taught to spell words aloud using ‘double’ for repeated letters. Better, b-e-double t-e-r, boot b-double o-t, or grinned g-r-i-double n-e-d.
One day a boy in her class was reciting the text: Up, up, Mary, the sun is rising. In a loud, clear voice, he read: Double up, Mary, the sun is rising.
u ho Tfuya大邦與特富野的川林、Patungkuon u ho Hohc ub u玉山與塔山的峰巒？誰比泰雅更了解llyung Msbtunux ru llyung Mkgogan大嵙崁溪的水、Babaq Wa’a ru Silogan大霸尖山與拔刀爾山的峰嶽？原住民為山著想，但主流的想法往往無法兼顧地方的需求：例如，烏來泰雅的祖靈祭已經完全變質了，因為撥款的縣政府要的是提高觀光業者的利益，並不重視泰雅的祖先。在今日的工商社會，倘若失去地方特色，只能當邊緣化的消費者；廠商不了解山地部落的情形，也必然不肯特別為山地部落生產商品，造成惡性循環：地方人勢必失去特色、生命力、創意。
Seeking the logic behind mundane practices can be fascinating. Consider the Mohawk hair style and the cowboy’s bushy mustache. What practical reason could there be for these vanities (monstrosities)?
The Mohawks have always been ferocious warriors. In the days before firearms, they shot at practically anything moving with their bows and arrows. In the heat of a fight, the bowstring was apt to get tangled in the warrior’s hair, so they shaved the bowstring side of their head. Then to even things out, the other side, and thus the Mohawk.
Out west, cowboys rode across high, arid, treeless plains under a sun so unforgiving that their famed cowboy hat did not always offer protection to protuberances. The protruding lips were especially vulnerable to scorching, so a bushy mustache shaded them.
How extraordinarily blinded we are by our preconceptions!
I saw an interesting clip on YouTube of a Saudi cleric explaining very carefully that god created woman to have her head covered, that her hair and neck, and preferably her neck, should not be visible, and that it is a simple fact that a man who sees a woman’s neck is apt to rape her.
IMHO, I would say it is a simple, easily observable fact that the vast majority of men in this world spend their lives around women whose hair, face, and neck are uncovered, and only a tiny minority of these ever take it into their twisted little minds to rape a woman.
Rape, of course, has nothing to do with sexual pleasure, and everything to do with power and control. Maybe he meant that Saudi men are so desperately unsure of themselves that they need to assert their power and control over women.
If Saudi men were willing to submit to strictures as onerous as those they impose on their womenfolk, I might more readily honor their claims that all should obey the word of their god. Were they not so eager to degrade their women at every chance, I would more readily believe their claim to respect women.
But come again? What sort of stupid god would create a woman’s beautiful face and require it to be covered?
Before the Christians reading this blog (hello? anybody there?) get too righteous about the Saudis, please read 1 Corinthians 11: 6… if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair. Paul goes on to explain that 7: For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8: (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9: Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.) 10: That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels.
This argument rests on the supposition that you believe that Eve was made from Adam’s rib, a supposition almost as believable as the notion that Spider Woman created humankind. I do remember enough of my days as a Lutheran to know that women were required to wear veils lest the sight of their hair stirred the angels hovering overhead to lust. In my childhood, adults rarely went out bareheaded anyway, and women always wore their hats in church; whether fashion or piety, I cannot say.
Paul continues with some marvelously self-proving logic: 14: Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him, 15: but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her for a covering. Frankly, no, I have never learned from Nature that long hair degrades a man, although it does get in the way.
In Ephesians 5:24, Paul reaches the conclusion that wives should be subject in everything to their husbands. So the Muslims are far from holding a monopoly on misogyny. Or bad logic.
What happens to Viet Namese army commandos when they get discharged? Well, of course, they come to Taiwan to sell duck meat, what else would a good communist do?
Perhaps some background on this enigmatic comment is required for the younger generation: in earlier years, the dedication and purity of the communist ideals of the VN army was idolized to the point of nausea. Today’s Taiwan Yahoo has an article about police tracking down illegal immigrants ~~ Taiwan has them too, I'm legal and documented ~~ two young men working at a duck meat stand turned out to be illegal immigrants, and one of them had been in VN Special Forces. He still got caught.
He said he just wanted to "make more money." A noble motive, one I wish Ho Chi-Minh were able to hear: the voice of a new generation, brought up in communist Viet Nam. Actually, there is a large number of Viet Namese working in Taiwan, legally, illegally, and matriomonially, and to the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever detected in any of them the faintest trace of communist ideology.
He who laughs last, laughs best.
I once knew someone who went to high school in a remote region of southern China during WWII. Because of the war, the students were tucked in a secluded place where they would be safe from the marauding Japanese imperialists. Wars come and go, but the education of the youth has to continue.
As did all the other students, he lived in the dorm. He assured me that they never, ever snuck out of the dorm at night. The reason was that in the morning, they frequently found tiger tracks just outside their dorm.
That's one way to keep them indoors!
Why we always carry flashlights outdoors after dark
This morning Yumin's barking woke me up… nothing new there. He had apparently spotted a snake, and I knew he would not stop barking until I went out to thank him.
When I opened the back door, I found a snake skin draped over the door. I suppose it had just shed its skin when Yumin spotted it. This is probably the skin of a 大頭蛇 square-head snake (Taiwan tree snake, Keelung cat snake, Boiga kraepelini). They’ve been around lately. Fortunately, they are not very poisonous, and they spend most of their time in trees, but you still don't want to get bitten by one. Better to carry a flashlight, no?