[ Hsinchu ] Atayal Tribal Musical Jouney – Part I


[ 黑崮部落音樂教室 ] Hiku’ Music Classroom ~ “一個即將喚醒部落族人心靈的地方.”

On a rather wintry weekend, we ventured into the depth of mountains in the mid-western part of Taiwan to a place called the Hiku’ Settlement/Village (黑崮部落) to experience the process of music-making with the Atayal Tribal people (泰雅族). We made our own Atayal jaw harp, learnt about ways of hunting, saw the indluence of Christian missionaries,  & tried out their traditional cuisione. Deep in the mountains, although much has traces of modernization, this place is still rather slow and quiet. You won’t see…

malls or souvenir stores lining along the street. You will hardly see any car here. In the morning, we took a train from Taipei to Hsinchu & the minibus picked us up from the train station and took us along one of the most winding mountain road (without street lamps too!) into this old little village.

 

Our tour bus was waiting for something so I was bored enough to look outside the car window at the reconstruction site of a museum (or rather parking area) and the dyke. This kid came out of nowhere, running across my field of vision, climbed up the rock and just sat there. For some reason, I felt shocked by sense of carefree-ness and what it feels like to have “nothing to do” (in a good sense).

 

A map of where we are and the nearby villages.

 


The river had lots of sediments and large rocks. This small village is one of the places that could’ve been totally ruined by huge landslides during typhoon.

We walked across the long suspension bridge. It somehow felt much more scary than the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver.


This village is called called “Qinquan” (literal translation: clear spring). There are 2 main historical figures we once stayed in this town -三毛 & 張學良)


We took a walk around the surrounding settlement and the bamboo forest to learn more about the different kinds of bamboos and plants you could find here, deep in the mountains.

 

Our aboriginal guide took us through the mountain trail and told us about how to look for signs of wild boar, deer, stream, or human trails. :p

 

We followed the trail and walked to the small Christian church sitting on top of a hill. This small intimate church was rather quite and peaceful. There was no priests nor people praying in there. But it wasn’t abandoned either.

 

There are mosaics done by hand on the wall beside a basketball court.

 


Seeing God through a key hole.


Outside of the small churh was a small door and a small statue of possibly Mary.

The interior of the church is quite different from the churches everywhere else. Missionaries who first came here and converted the aboriginals here to Christianity also incorporated the aboriginal culture and ways of living into the building and decoration of this church. The walls are not full of paintings of biblical teachings but traditional ways and values that the aboriginals practice or believe in. The bottom strip of the wall to the left of the door shows the process of maturing into manhood whereas the part to the right shows how a woman becomes a woman.

 


I thought this kid was way too  PRO & cute! Look at the way he takes photos!
The way he talks was CRAZILY sharp too!

This small shop & the only shop we encountered every since we entered the heart of the mountain, sells all sorts of interesting & weird things! The owner was a old couple who seemed to have went to the furtherest edge of the earth and brought back the strangest or oldest souvenir from abroad. It was like a time capsule. They actually sell their items on eBay too!


We thought this was wayyyyy too funny. This drink functions like the “Red Bull” but the brand name is “Wild Boar”.

 


Our minibus dropped us off at the edge of a mountain path and we walked down to the Music Hall. The place was still under construction. They barely had the toilet installed just in time for our visit. We are the first visitors to witness the this music hall in operation. This was also the place where most of our musical activities went on. They built these houses made of bamboo all from scratch!

 


Atayal trad. dresses.


We were prtending that we were BBQing this.


Makng the jaw harp from scratch.


Have to be really careful when we use these tools.

Almost completed. To be honest, half of this wasn’t done by me. I wasn’t exactly sure where we were carving so it took me a long time. Then the young-looking assistant couldn’t stand it and just came to help me finish the main thing off. I was quite surprised because that actually took him some time to do. Then after that, my friend couldn’t stand it and just helped me to chizzled the last bits off. So it was pretty much finished by the time I got my hands on it. haha.


Our jaw harp-making workshop! The guy with the blue cap was the assistant who helped me carve the bamboo thing in the first half.

 

How does a jaw harp work? Well, it basically uses the force you pull on the strring to create vibration of the bamboo piece that we carved out in the centre of the bamboo piece. & when you put it close to the opening of your mouth, the space inside your mouth becomes something like an acoustic box or sound board to project the spring-like sound produced by the vibration. Girls will a
ctually never play this as you’ll see in my next entry.

 

In the evening we had a “hunter’s” workshop. Apparently becoming a “hunter” in the aboriginal communities back in its golden days was very difficult ad definitely not every man could be one. Our “hunter” showed us the kinds of tools he uses when he went out hunting and the kinds of things they would hunt (some specimens here are actually of endangered animals now under protection). The skull by the way belonged to a wild boar.

 


We also learnt about firing these long guns. But omg.. the explosive sound it creates ws way too loud & deafening!! & It really takes too much time to reload.. That thing was also almost my height too!!


Setting up traps.

 

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