July 16, 2009

Shenshan- A special place to remember...

On the way to Wutai on Road Tai #24, another small town of Rukai you could not miss is Shenshan. I brought back lots of memory from this friendly place....

During the last day we stayed at Wutai, Mrs. Tu (the host of the “Dream House” homestay where we stayed for 3 days) took us to her hometown Shenshan. The first astonishing Rukai architecture came to my eyes was the church of Sacred Heart. This church was built 50 years ago by Mrs. Tu’s father, who also designed the famous seats inside the church with the figures of Rukai children and attire. A small backpack was hung on the back to hold the bibles. This again represented the high artistic characters of Rukai.

The figures of Rukai chief with his family members holding hands together for Rukai’s dance and the Hundred-pace snacks again was sculptured on the wall.

We also visited Shenshan’s first family and listened to a legend about how Rukai tribe was divided into 3 main townships in the southern part of the central mountain range in Taiwan. There are many legends about these 3 townships.

“Long time ago, because of a strong storm, the Rukai tribe “Daimai” village almost disappeared. “Daimai” village is located in the Yushan (Yu Mountain). The four children of the chief of “Daimai” village then moved to the peak of the Yu Mountain to live. They lived peacefully with wild animals in the mountain. After many years, these four children came back to “Daimai” village to check out their old place. They found out that the only thing left in their house was a wooden pole. These four children decided to cut this wooden pole into 4 pieces. Each of them took one piece to live in a different area for generations. These became three main townships: the Wutai Township of Pingtung County, Maolin Township of Kaohsiung County, and Peinan Township in Taitung County"

The hosts of Shenshan first family then were dressed in the Rukai attire. With their invitation, I was also dressed in a woman’s wedding attire. How gracious!.. The attire reflected the hierarchical system of Rukai. In the past, leopard teeth head dress, leopard skin vest, precious glass beads, and eagle feathers only belonged to the higher ranking class. The symbols of One Hundred Pace Snake, Sun, Head, and Pottery belong to the chief. Currently, there is no hierarchy between the nobles and the common. Lily flower is also an important item for the attire. (Mentioned in the previous article)

Among all these, the wall painting for the colorful tribal pattern design impressed me the most. At the moment we received the paint brushes and a bucket of black paint, we were still wondering if we could do a good job. “Sure! We can.” I said. We both laughed. “Okay, you paint the top and bottom boarders and I will paint the border of the diamond shapes” We organized our job before we started to paint. A huge umbrella was set up for the shade; but it was almost knocked down by the wind, so we had to watch the umbrella when the wind started to pick up.

The local people drove by and said to us: “wow! We are having help from the tourists”. At that moment, we did not see ourselves as tourists. We saw ourselves as two local people helping to finish the beautiful tribal painting on the walls for the community. When you visit Shenshan the next time, don’t forget to stop by and see our paintings!

Please click to see the below photo slideshow, and listen to a tribal song-小米祭

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