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AMONG THE HEAD-HUNTERS OF FORMOSA ***




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Transcriber's Note: Italic text is denoted by _underscores_ and bold
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AMONG THE HEAD-HUNTERS OF FORMOSA

[Illustration: MAN AND WOMAN OF YAMI TRIBE IN REGALIA WORN AT THE
SPRING FESTIVAL IN HONOUR OF THE SEA-GOD.

(_See page 149._)]




AMONG THE HEAD-HUNTERS
OF FORMOSA

_By_ JANET B. MONTGOMERY
MCGOVERN, B.L.

_Diplomée in Anthropology, University of Oxford_


WITH A PREFACE BY

R. R. MARETT, M.A., D.Sc.

READER IN SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD


ILLUSTRATED


T. FISHER UNWIN LTD

LONDON: ADELPHI TERRACE




_First published in 1922_

(_All rights reserved_)




TO

W. M. M.

MY SON AND THE COMPANION
OF MY WANDERINGS




“No human thought is so primitive as to have lost bearing on our own
thought, or so ancient as to have broken connection with our own life.”

E. B. TYLOR, _Primitive Culture_.




PREFACE


To treat her as a goddess has always been accounted a sure way of
winning a lady’s favour. To the cynic, therefore, it might seem that
Mrs. McGovern was bound to speak well of her head-hunting friends of
the Formosan hills, seeing that they welcomed her with a respect that
bordered on veneration. But of other head-hunters, hailing, say, from
Borneo or from Assam, anthropologists have reported no less well, and
that though the investigators were accorded no divine honours. The
key to a just estimate of savage morality is knowledge of all the
conditions. A custom that considered in itself is decidedly revolting
may, on further acquaintance with the state of culture as a whole, turn
out to be, if not praiseworthy, at least a drawback incidental to a
normal phase of the ruder life of mankind.

The “grizzled warrior,” we are told, who made oblation to our
authoress, bore on his chin the honourable mark of the man-slayer. To
her Chinese coolie that formidable badge would have been enough to
proclaim the wearer _seban_ - the kind of wicked animal that defends
itself when attacked. Thus, if it merely served to warn an invading
alien to keep his distance, this crude advertisement of a head-hunting
habit would be justified, from the standpoint of the survival of
the hard-pressed aborigines. Even had a threat of cannibalism been
thrown in, its protective value could hardly be denied; for, much as
men object to be killed, they commonly deem it worse to be killed
and eaten. Though reputed to be man-eaters, however, the savages of
Formosa are not so in fact. Indeed, the boot is on the other foot. I
remember Mr. Shinji Ishii telling us at a meeting of the Folk-lore
Society that, despite their claim to a higher form of civilization,
the Chinese of the adjoining districts will occasionally partake of
a head-hunter, chopped up small and disguised in soup: the principle
implied in the precaution being, I dare say, sound enough, namely, that
of inoculation, though doubtless the application is unfortunate.

Meanwhile, head-hunting has for these wild-folk a function and
significance that are not to be understood so long as we consider it
as a thing apart. The same canon of interpretation holds good of any
other outstanding feature of the social life. Customs are the organic
parts of a body of custom. To use a technical expression, they are
but so many elements composing a single “culture-complex.” Modern
research is greatly concerned with the tracing out of resemblances
due to the spread of one or another system of associated customs. The
method is to try to work back to some ethnic centre of diffusion;
where the characteristic elements of the system, whatever might have
been their remoter derivation, have been thoroughly fused together,
in the course of a long process of adaptation to a given environment.
Thereupon it becomes possible to follow up the propagation of influence
as it radiates from this centre in various directions outwards. Now
it may well be that the tradition rarely, or never, is imparted in
its entirety. Selection, or sheer accident, will cause not a little
to be left behind. On the other hand, the chances are all against one
custom setting forth by itself. Customs tend to emigrate in groups.
Thus head-hunting, and a certain mode of tattooing, and the institution
of the skull-shelf, and the requirement that a would-be husband must
display a head as token of his prowess, are on the face of them
associated customs, and such as are suited to have been travelling
companions. Hence it is for the ethnologist to see whether he cannot
refer the whole assortment to some intrusive culture of Indonesian or
other origin.

Yet lest one good method should corrupt the science, we should not
forget that there is another side to the study of culture; though from
this side likewise there is equal need to examine customs, not apart,
but in their organic connexion with each other. Whencesoever derived,
the customs of a people have an ascertainable worth here and now for
those who live by them. The first business, I should even venture to
say, of any anthropologist, be his sphere the study or the field, is
to seek to appreciate a given culture as the expression of a scheme
of values. Every culture represents a set of means whereby it is
sought to realize a mode of life. Unconsciously for the most part,
yet none the less actually, every human society pursues an ideal. To
grasp this ideal is to possess the clue to the whole cultural process
as a spiritual and vital movement. The social inheritance is subject
to a constant revaluation, bringing readaptation in its train. There
is a selective activity at work, and to apprehend its secret springs
one must keep asking all the time, what does this people want, and
want most? unconscious though it may largely be, the want is there.
Correspondingly, since it is a question of getting into touch with a
latent process, the anthropologist must employ a method which I can
only describe as one of divination. He must somehow enter into the
soul of a people. Introjection, or in plainer language sympathy, is
the master-key. Objective methods so-called are all very well; but
if, as sometimes happens, they lead one to forget that anthropology
is ultimately the science of the inner man, then they but batter at a
closed door.

A sure criterion, then, by which to appraise any account of a savage
people consists in the measure of the sympathy shown. A summary sketch
that has this saving quality will be found more illuminating than
many volumes of statistics. Literally or otherwise, the student of
wild-folk must have undergone initiation at their hands. Having become
as one of themselves, he is qualified to act as their spokesman,
putting into such words as we can understand the felt needs and
aspirations of a less self-conscious type of humanity. Here, for
instance, Mrs. McGovern, though writing for the general public, and
reserving a full digest of her material for another work, has sought
to present an insider’s version of the aboriginal life of Formosa. She
was willing to become an initiate, and did in fact become so, almost
overshooting the mark, as it were, through translation to a super-human
plane. So throughout she tries to do justice to the native point of
view. She says enough to make us feel that, despite certain notions
more or less offensive to our conscience, the ideal of the Formosan
tribesman is in important respects quite admirable. He is on the whole
a good man according to his lights. Allowance being made for his
handicap, he is playing the game of life as well as he can.

Having thus dealt briefly with principles of interpretation I perhaps
ought to stop short, since an anthropologist as such has nothing
to do with the bearing of his science on questions of political
administration. Mrs. McGovern, however, has a good deal to say about
the means whereby it is proposed to convert head-hunters into peaceable
and useful citizens. Without going into the facts, upon which I am
incompetent to throw any fresh light, I might venture to make some
observations of a general nature that depend on a principle already
mentioned. This principle was, that to understand a people is to
envisage its ideal. The practical corollary, I suggest, is that, to
preserve a people, one must preserve its ideal so far as to leave its
vital and vitalizing elements intact. In other words, in purging that
ideal, as may be done and ought to be done when it is sought to lift
a backward people out of savagery, great care should be taken not to
wreck their whole scheme of values, to cause all that has hitherto
made life worth living for them to seem cheap and futile. Given
sympathetic insight into their dream of the good life - one that is,
probably, not unlike ours in its main essentials - it ought to prove
feasible to curtail noxious practices by substituting better ways of
satisfying the same needs. Contact with civilization is apt to produce
among savages a paralysis of the will to live. More die of depression
than of disease or drink. They lose their interest in existence. Their
spirit is broken. When the policy is to preserve them, the mere man of
science can lend a hand by pointing out what indeed every experienced
administrator knows by the time he has bought his experience at other
people’s expense. Given, then, the insider’s point of view, a sense
of what the savage people itself wants and is trying for, and given
also patience in abundance, civilization may effectively undertake to
fulfil, instead of destroying.

R. R. MARETT.




INTRODUCTION


_Among the Head-hunters of Formosa_ contains the substance of
observations made during a two-years’ stay in Formosa - from September
1916 to September 1918. The book is written for the general reader,
rather than for the specialist in anthropology or ethnology. Hence
many details - especially those concerning minor differences in manners
and customs among the various aboriginal tribes - have been omitted;
for these, while perhaps of interest to the specialist, would prove
wearying to the layman.

Inadequate as the treatment of the subject may seem to the
anthropologist, I venture to hope that such information as the book
contains may stimulate interest, and perhaps encourage further
investigation, before it is too late, into the tribal customs and
habits of a little-known, and rapidly disappearing, people.

A writer - signing himself “P. M.” - discussing the aborigines of
Formosa, in the _China Review_ (vol. ii) for 1873, says: “Decay and
death are always sad sights to contemplate, and when decay and death
are those of a nation or race, the feeling is stimulated to acuteness.”

If this feeling in connection with the aborigines was aroused in
a European resident in Formosa in 1873, how much more strongly
is this the case to-day - nearly half a century later - when the
aboriginal population has dwindled from approximately one-sixth of
the population of the island (an estimate given by Keane in his
remarks on Formosa, in _Man Past and Present_) to about 3 per cent.
of the entire population - a decline of 15 per cent. in less than
fifty years. Under the present system of “benevolent assimilation” on
the part of the Japanese Government the aboriginal population seems
declining at an even more rapid rate than it did under Chinese rule,
which ended in 1895. Hence if the mistake which was made in the case
of the Tasmanians - that of allowing them to die out before definite
or detailed information regarding their beliefs and customs was
gained - is to be avoided in the case of the Formosan aborigines, all
anthropological data available, both social and physical, should be
gained without further delay. Up to this time apparently but little
has been done in the way of scientific study of these people, in spite
of the fact that, as Keane points out, Formosa “presents a curious
ethnical and linguistic connecting link between the continental and
oceanic populations of Asia.”

Dr. W. Campbell, writing in _Hastings’ Encyclopædia of Religion and
Ethics_ (vol. vi) remarks: “The first thing to notice in making any
statement about the savages of Formosa is the extreme paucity of
information which is available.” If anything which I - the first white
woman to go among certain of the tribal groups of these savages - am
able to say will make less this “extreme paucity of information,” then
I shall feel that the time spent in writing this book has not been
wasted.

I must add that I am deeply indebted to Dr. Marett, of Oxford, who most
kindly read the greater part of the book in manuscript form; and again
in proof.

JANET B. MONTGOMERY MCGOVERN.

Salzburg, Austria.
_March 1922._


NOTE

Among other valuable suggestions, Dr. Marett has called my attention
to the fact that the word “caribou” (sometimes spelt carabao) is used
in this book to describe an animal other than the American reindeer.
It is quite true that no dictionary would define “caribou” as meaning
the hideous, almost hairless, beast of the bovine species used in
certain parts of Indonesia for ploughing the rice-paddies, and whose
favourite recreation - when not harnessed to the plough - is to lie,
or to stand, buried to its neck in muddy water; yet this beast is so
called both in the Philippines and in Formosa; that is, by English and
Americans resident in these islands. By the Japanese the animal is
called _sui-gyu_; by the Chinese _shui-niu_ (as nearly as the sound can
be imitated in English spelling); the characters being the same in both
languages, but the pronunciation different.

In connection with the pronunciation and the English spelling of
Chinese and Japanese words, the spelling is of course phonetic. This
applies to the names of places, as well as to other words. As regards
Formosan place names, the difficulty of adequate transliteration is
aggravated by the fact that the Chinese-Formosans and the Japanese,
while using the same written characters, pronounce the names quite
differently. In spelling the names of places, I have followed that
system usually adopted in English books. There can, however, be no
hard and fast rules for Sino-Japanese spelling; therefore the Japanese
gentleman to whom I am indebted for the map who has spelled Keelung
with a single “e,” is quite “within his rights” from the point of view
of transliteration.

J. B. M. M.




CONTENTS


PREFACE pp. 9-14

INTRODUCTION pp. 15-18


PART I

_DESCRIPTION OF THE ISLAND AND ITS INHABITANTS_


CHAPTER I

IMPRESSIONS FROM A DISTANCE

Scepticism regarding the Existence of a Matriarchate - Glimpse of
Formosa from a Steamer’s Deck in passing - Hearsay in Japan concerning
the Island Colony - Opportunity of going to Formosa as a Government
Official pp. 27-35


CHAPTER II

IMPRESSIONS AT FIRST-HAND

The Voyage from Kobe to Keelung - The History of Formosa as recounted by
a Chinese-Formosan - A Visit to a Chinese-Formosan Home - The Scenery of
Formosa - Experience with Japanese Officialdom in Formosa pp. 36-68


CHAPTER III

PERSONAL CONTACT WITH THE ABORIGINES

A New Year Visit to the East Coast Tribes - Received by the Taiyal as a
Reincarnation of one of the seventeenth-century Dutch “Fathers.”
pp. 69-85


CHAPTER IV

THE PRESENT POPULATION OF FORMOSA

Hakkas and other Chinese-Formosans, Japanese, Aborigines pp. 86-92


PART II

_MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE ABORIGINAL TRIBES_


CHAPTER V

RACIAL STOCK

Physical Appearance pointing to Indoneso-Malay Origin - Linguistic
Evidence and Evidence of Handicraft - Tribal Divisions of the
Aborigines - Moot Question as to the Existence of a Pigmy People in the
Interior of the Island pp. 95-108


CHAPTER VI

SOCIAL ORGANIZATION

Head-hunting and associated Customs - “Mother-right” and Age-grade
Systems - Property Rights - Sex Relations pp. 109-129


CHAPTER VII

RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND PRACTICES

Deities of the Ami and Beliefs of this Tribe regarding Heaven and
Hell - Beliefs and Ceremonials of the other Tribes of the South - Descent
from Bamboo; Carved Representations of Glorified Ancestors and of
Serpents; Moon Worship; Sacred Tree, Orchid, and Grass - The Kindling of
the Sacred Fire by the Bunun and Taiyal Tribes - Beliefs and Ceremonials
of the Taiyal - Rain Dances; Bird Omens; Ottofu; Princess and Dog
Ancestors - Yami Celebrations in Honour of the Sea-god pp. 130-151


CHAPTER VIII

MARRIAGE CUSTOMS

The Point of View of the Aborigines regarding Sex - Courtship preceding
Marriage - Consultation of the Bird Omen and of Bamboo Strips as to the
Auspicious Day for the Wedding - The Wedding Ceremony - Mingling by the
Priestess of Drops of Blood taken from the Legs of Bride and Groom;
Ritual Drinking from a Skull - Honeymoon Trips and the setting-up of
House-keeping - Length of Marriage Unions pp. 152-162


CHAPTER IX

CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITH ILLNESS AND DEATH

Belief that Illness is due to Evil Ottofu - Ministrations of the
Priestess - A Seventeenth-century Dutch Record of the Treatment of
the Dying by the Formosan Aborigines - The “Dead Houses” of the
Taiyal - Burial of the Dead by the Ami, Bunun, and Paiwan Tribes beneath
the Hearth-stone of the Home - “Green” and “Dry” Funerals pp. 163-172


CHAPTER X

ARTS AND CRAFTS

Various Types of Dwelling-houses peculiar to the Different
Tribes - Ingenious Suspension-bridges and Communal Granaries
common to all the Tribes - Weapons and the Methods of their
Ornamentation - Weaving and Basket-making - Peculiar Indonesian Form of
Loom - Pottery-making - Agricultural Implements and Fish-traps - Musical
Instruments: Nose-flute; Musical Bow; Bamboo Jews’-harp - Personal
Adornment pp. 173-185


CHAPTER XI

TATTOOING AND OTHER FORMS OF MUTILATION

Cutting away of the Lobes of the Ears and knocking out of the
Teeth - Significance of the Different Designs of Tattoo-marking among
the Taiyal - Tattooing among the Paiwan pp. 186-192


CHAPTER XII

METHODS OF TRANSPORT

Ami Wheeled Vehicle resembling Models found in early Cyprian
Tombs - Boat-building and the Art of Navigation on the Decline.
pp. 193-197


CHAPTER XIII

POSSIBILITIES OF THE FUTURE

“Decadent” or “Primitive” - A Dream of White Saviours from the West
pp. 198-199


CHAPTER XIV

CIVILIZATION AND ITS BENEFITS

To “wonder furiously” - Better Government, or Worse? - Comparison of
Standards - A Conversation with Aborigine Friends - The Question of
Money - Tabus pp. 200-215


INDEX pp. 217-220




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


MAN AND WOMAN OF YAMI TRIBE IN REGALIA WORN AT THE SPRING FESTIVAL
IN HONOUR OF THE SEA-GOD _Frontispiece_

FACING PACE

ANTHROPOLOGICAL MAP OF FORMOSA 27

GATEWAY OF THE OLD CHINESE WALL FORMERLY SURROUNDING THE CITY OF
TAIHOKU 36

“CARIBOU,” OR WATER-BUFFALO, USED BY THE CHINESE-FORMOSANS 52

MEN AND YOUNG WOMEN OF THE TAIYAL TRIBE ON A STATE VISIT TO THE
CITY OF TAIHOKU 52

AUTHOR IN RICKSHA IN THE CITY OF TAIHOKU 66

USUAL FORM OF _TORO_ (PUSH-CAR) 66

TWO MEN OF THE TAIYAL TRIBE BRIBED BY GIFTS TO HAVE THEIR PICTURE
TAKEN 70

AUTHOR IN _TORO_ GOING UP INTO TAIYAL TERRITORY 70

“FACTORY” FOR EXTRACTING CAMPHOR IN THE MOUNTAINS OF FORMOSA 90

MEN OF THE BUNUN TRIBE 98

YAMI TRIBESPEOPLE OF BOTEL TOBAGO IN FRONT OF “BACHELOR-HOUSE” 98

TAIYAL WOMAN, AND A WOMAN LIVING AMONG THE TAIYAL BELIEVED TO BE
PART PIGMY 102

WOMAN OF YAMI TRIBE OF BOTEL TOBAGO 102

MAN OF TAIYAL TRIBE AND WOMAN LIVING AMONG THE TAIYAL SUSPECTED
OF HAVING A STRAIN OF PIGMY BLOOD 108

AUTHOR’S SECRETARY MAKING NOTES OF TAIYAL DIALECT 108

TAIYAL TRIBESPEOPLE 114

SKULL-SHELF IN A TAIYAL VILLAGE 114

TWO PAIWAN MEN AND A YOUNG WOMAN IN FRONT OF THE HOUSE OF A
PAIWAN CHIEF 120

FAMILY OF THE AMI TRIBE 134

GLORIFIED ANCESTOR OF THE PAIWAN TRIBE CARVED ON A SLATE
MONUMENT 134

AUTHOR WITH TWO TAIYAL GIRLS IN FRONT OF TAIYAL HOUSE 172

TAIYAL WARRIOR IN CEREMONIAL BLANKET 172

PAIWAN VILLAGE OF SLATE 176

AUTHOR IN THE DRESS OF A WOMAN OF THE TAIYAL TRIBE 180

A TAIYAL WOMAN AT HER LOOM 184

WOMAN OF AMI TRIBE MAKING POTTERY 184




PART I


_DESCRIPTION OF THE ISLAND AND ITS INHABITANTS_

[Illustration: ANTHROPOLOGICAL MAP OF FORMOSA.

Scale 1:2,000,000. Heights in feet]




CHAPTER I

IMPRESSIONS FROM A DISTANCE

Scepticism regarding the Existence of a Matriarchate - Glimpse of
Formosa from a Steamer’s Deck in passing - Hearsay in Japan concerning
the Island Colony - Opportunity of going to Formosa as a Government
Official.


As to the actual existence of matriarchates I had always been
sceptical. Matrilineal tribes, and those matrilocal - that was a
different matter. The existence of these among certain primitive
peoples had long been substantiated. But that the name should descend
in the line of the mother, or that the newly married couple should
take up its residence in the tribe or phratry of the bride, has not
of necessity meant that the woman held the reins of power. Quite
the reverse in many cases, as actual contact with peoples among
whom matrilineal and matrilocal customs existed has proved to every
practical observer.[1]

Those lecturers in the “Woman’s Cause” who boasted of the “great
matriarchates of old” I thought weakened, rather than strengthened,
the cause they would advocate by attempting to bring to its aid
evidence builded on the sands. The great “matriarchates of antiquity”
I was inclined to class with the “Golden Age” of the Theosophists, as
representing a state of affairs not only “too good to be true,” but
one in which the wish was - to paraphrase - father to the belief. And
as to prehistoric matriarchates, representing a highly evolved state
of civilization - in anything like the present-day significance of
that word - I am still sceptical; as sceptical as I am of a Golden Age
preceding the day of _Pithecanthropus_ and his kind.

But a land which is, as regards its aboriginal inhabitants - now
confined to a few tribes, and those fast diminishing, in its more
mountainous and inaccessible portions - sufficiently matripotestal
to justify its being called a matriarchate, I have found. And this,
as is often the case with a quest of any sort, rather by accident.
Residence among the American Indians of New Mexico, of Arizona, and of
Nevada, and a slight knowledge of the natives of certain of the Pacific
Islands - particularly those of Hawaii and of the Philippines - had
led me to give up the idea of finding a genuine matriarchate even
among primitive peoples. Too often I had found that where those who


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