July 17, 2009

The Chief's House

Ahli is located in the deepest mountainous area of Wutai Township, where another Rukai tribe is located. We continued to ride the motorcycle on Road Tai #24 for another 10 Km from Wutai. After about 20 minutes, we arrived at Ahli. The population of Ahli is no more than 60 people.

“Could you tell us where the chief’s house is?” Kristen asked. A gentleman answered, "Look, down this hill, a house with white fence is the chief’s house.” “Can we visit them?” Kristen asked again. The gentleman answered: “sure, that is my house!” First I thought he was joking. He said he was the son of the chief, named “Moladas”. With a warm hospitality, he asked a lady guide who is in training to take us to the chief’s house.

Abaliusu (The Chief’s House) has kept the most complete Rukai culture in Wutai Township. It is a historical site reserved by Pingtung County. Abaliusu is a 300 year-old historical house and used to be a tribe meeting place. It is now still used for the tribal people gathering for events and festivals.

As I mentioned in the previous articles, potteries are very important in Rukai’s culture and have been kept for generations. It is also an important gift for weddings. The pottery with a smooth surface and no sculpture belongs to the common, and the one having beautiful sculpture belongs to the nobles. There are also male and female potteries; the one with 2 dots on the surface represents the female.

The two large wooden sculptures can only be seen in the chief’s house and represent the power and respect to the ancestors. Under the Stone-Slab floor in the chief’s house, the same as the rest of other houses, their ancestor bodies are buried after they pass on. We at one point did not know if we should step on it because it may not be respectful; but, the lady guide told us that as long as we talk softly, it would be no problem to step on the center area.

A big amount of leopard teeth was hung on the wall to show the hunting record. The traditional knives also present how brave they were in the tribe

In the past, there were joint cups for drinking in the tribe. The bottom of the joint cups is connected. This was to prevent poisoning one of the drinking parties by the other. What a brilliant idea!

Beautiful traditional handmade Rukai family attires were also displayed in there.

Dry taro is a very common snack in the tribe. It does not have that much of flavor, but is very nutritious.

In about 300m from the chief’s house, we hiked to the Oldest Stone-Slab House. The trip appeared a little bit adventurous, since we were wondering if we could ever reach our destination because there was no sign of showing directions. However, the red plum trees on the road kept us motivated to continue the hike since we had our pockets full of small red plums while searching for the destination….

Please click to see the below photo slideshow, and listen to a tribal song-相親相愛

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