Thursday, December 9, 2010

The cultures, Customs and traditionof the place

Welcome Video of Taiwan

Facts and statistic
Location: Eastern Asia, islands bordering the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait, north of the Philippines, off the southeastern coast of China
Capital: Taipei
Climate: tropical; marine; rainy season during southwest monsoon (June to August); cloudiness is persistent and extensive all year
Population: 22,858,872 (July 2007 est.)
Ethnic Make-up: Taiwanese (including Hakka) 84%, mainland Chinese 14%, indigenous 2%
Religions: mixture of Buddhist and Taoist 93%, Christian 4.5%, other 2.5%
Government: multiparty democracy

cultures, Customs and tradition

In different areas of Taiwan, there entails different cultural practices, beliefs, customs and etiquette of different groups of people.

Tangible culture of Taiwan: Taiwan’s craftworks are all done by the later generation of the Taiwanese. To date, traditional crafts play an important part in the local art scene, with ceramics from Yingge, Shueili and Kinmen, woodcarving from Sanyi, stone carving from Hualien, and Meinung's hand-crafted oil-paper umbrellas. Oriental glassware art has also taken on a new lease of life in Taiwan: Liuli Gongfang and Tittot are two examples of glass art manufacturers who have earned international recognition in recent years. Given the chance to visit the cultural places of Taiwan, one will realise that the crafts can be found in the buildings. Ceramic, Stone carving, handcraft oil-paper umbrella and oriental glassware can be found in the older building structures in Taiwan.

 Let us now take into a deeper understanding of woodcarving.

In Sanyi (a place found in rural Taiwan), woodcarving is the most important creative industry. The first two woodcarving masters in Taiwan, Wu Luo-song and Li Jin-chuan, were both from Sanyi and studied woodcarving abroad. In the early days the woodcarvings were mostly of traditional subjects such as statues of local deities or decorative items. However, nowadays the form and technique has expanded, often combining wood with other materials.
Taiwan has many other thriving local arts and crafts. They may not be world-famous or on a grand scale, but these arts reflect the age old wisdom and traditions of the local people, who combine local natural resources and history with modern technology and creativity to produce contemporary, living works of art.

From what I have analyse, wood carving experts in Taiwan are decreasing as he country grow to be more globalize. The masters of woodcarving are from the previous generation which in my opinion, the current generation of Taiwanese prefers more modernize culture. This can be seen in the everyday life of the Taiwanese. However, I feel that woodcarving is a skill that shouldn’t be stopped, i is a special technique which represents the culture inTaiwan.

Intangible Culture of Taiwan: the values and attitudes of Taiwanese are practiced everywhere. Like any other culture, Taiwanese are very formal in their greetings. It is always the oldest person in the group greeted first. This is a form of respect to the older person. One interesting fact that one will never see in Singapore is when greeting someone, Taiwanese look towards the ground as a sign of respect.

Chinese women do not change their names when they marry other Chinese and the children’s last name will generally follow that of the father. This can also be seen in locals or any other Chinese race family. They address the wife by the husband’s surname. Often their personal names hold some poetic meaning or significance. The names of their children are often named by the elder or their parents. For example, if a child named 志气, it can mean that the child’s parents hopes that he would become a pillar in the society with strong backbone.

Taiwan is a Chinese populated country, where more than half of the races are Chinese. Thus, practices freedom of religion, research has shown that 93% of the population’s religion is mixture of Buddhist and Taoist.


Taiwan religions
Taiwan practices freedom of religion in which citizens are given the freedom to believe in the religion of their choice. Taiwan generously accepts foreign religious ideas while honouring traditional beliefs: even within the same family, it is common for different faiths to exist. As a result, the development of many different religions exists.

A structure of the Budhha

Taoism Symbol
Traditional Chinese religions include Buddhism, Taoism, and folk beliefs. Taoism is indigenous to China, while Buddhism was introduced from Indian. In the past, there exists distinctions in religion where one group is purely Taoist and the other group is the Buddhism where they worshipped idols and deity. After World War II, the two religions have blended together; while a few temples today are purely Buddhist, most Taiwanese continue worshipping a variety of Buddhist, Taoist and folk deities in a single temple.

Numerous other religions took hold in Taiwan in the atmosphere of religious freedom than followed retrocession. Taiwan today also has followers of many other religions.

Their indigenous groups.

indigenous groups!

In Taiwan, they have a total of 15 indigenous groups. These indigenous groups are located at around Taiwan, northern, southern, central and eastern.

I have sourced out a few tribes with interesting practices, cultures and custom.

Northern Taiwan-Truku (Taroko) 太魯閣

here is a video of a dance performance by taroko
The Taroko (Truku) tribe was once considered a subtribe of the Atayal, and does share some common characteristics with that tribe. However, after Taroko had proved a district with unique culture and language, they rose to be the top 12 well-recognized tribe. Several hundred years ago, in Nantou County in central Taiwan the tribe is over populated. Thus, they crossed the Central Mountain Range to arrive in the Liwu River region in what is today known as Taroko National Park. They found this area to be plentiful in river, forest and mineral resources.
Traditional lifestyles
The Taroko tribe traditionally grew millet and hunt for their food. Thus, they have ceremonies and festivals such as the Harvest Festival and Hunting Rites to celebrate the joyous event. The Harvest Festival is held around the end of August. On that day, there is a feast, singing and dancing. Ancestor Worship Rites is a prestige and important event where the Taroko is very particular about. The members of the tribe thank their ancestors for protection, and pray to them for continued good health and harvests, as well as promise to continue to follow the lessons the ancestors have handed down to them.
Cultural practice-Facial Tattoo

For men, the tattoo is drawn a short, thick line tattooed down the middle of the forehead and the middle of the chin.
For women, these tattoos were much more complex and included one or more lines on the forehead and a continuous patterned arc around the mouth and across both cheeks, and were thought to enhance feminine beauty
However, these tattoos did not have just an esthetic purpose. They were also a symbol of entry into adulthood and eligibility for marriage and the special pass needed to join the ancestral spirits after death. To qualify to receive a facial tattoo, a man had to prove himself an able warrior and a woman a skilled weaver.
Traditional arts and crafts
Taroko tribes and a few tribes in the northern Taiwan are considered the best weavers, and to be able to create the most complicated designs. Taroko favour a white background with small rhombi in a number of colours such as pink, blue and yellow, especially on the skirts traditionally worn by Taroko women.
The Taroko are also good at rattan and bamboo weaving, producing containers for storage and baskets. Men usually carried a basket with two straps that could be worn on the back, for bringing game back to the village from a hunt. Women used baskets with one strap that was placed at the forehead. These baskets were used for carrying crops from the fields. Such a method of carrying allowed women to have their hands free to perform other tasks while walking back to their village, such as processing ramie fibers to prepare them for weaving.

Central Taiwan- Tsuo (Bunun Tribe) 布農族

Traditional Lifestyles
The Tsou is a patrilineal tribe and traditionally there were clear distinctions in the types of work performed by both genders. The women took care of the home and the fields including the raising of pigs and other animals. The men hunted and fished and were responsible for defending the tribe and making political decisions. To be able to carry out their responsibilities, young males received training in hunting and warring, as well as learned of the history and traditions of the tribe in the “kuba” (pronounced koo ba) or men’s meeting hall, a hut-like structure built from wood and straw.

Mayasvi (Warring Ceremony). The Mayasvi takes place in mid February. This ceremony was transformed into an annual millet festival. In its current form, the Mayasvi consists of two days of singing by the tribal males to honour the tribal deities, coming-of-age celebration and the blessing of newborn males.

During major ceremonies, the Tsou are dressed in traditional regalia. The men wear headdresses consisting of a red headband lined with shells and adorned with the fur of the black bear and feathers. This can be placed over a leather cap. Shells can also be seen on the remaining regalia and the legs are covered with pieces of leather. The use of shells points to the once large traditional activity areas of the Tsou, from the deep mountains (elevations of 1,000 meters) to the western coast. The traditional use of leather made from animal hides is a testament to the strong hunting culture of the Tsou and the use of all parts of an animal, allowing none of its resources to go to waste. 

The females of the tribe wear brightly colored clothing including diamond-shaped chest piece, skirt and leggings, as well as a headdress.

Traditional Arts and Culture
Among the Tsou, traditional art forms include rattan weaving and leather making. In terms of leather crafting, there is not much need for tanning of animal hide to create clothing, thus leather is now hand engraved and hand painted to create handbags, name card holders, wallets, necklaces, earrings and other accessories.

Southern Taiwan- Rukai魯凱族
The Rukai refer to themselves as the people of the cloud leopard. According to tribal legend, there were two brothers who were the leaders of the tribe. As the tribe grew in numbers, they became concerned that the land upon which they were living would soon become insufficient. They decided to seek out a new living space, with the help of their trusty hunting companion, a cloud leopard. The leopard led them to the banks of a small clear lake in a beautiful valley and this became Old Haocha Village. Today, Old Haocha maintains a significant collection of traditional slate homes. This is because there are no roads to Old Haocha.

Traditional arts and culture
The Rukai maintain a social hierarchy of nobility and commoners, with the commoners working the land and the upper class taking a share of the harvest. The women of this tribe excel at embroidery, decorating clothing with complicated designs. However, certain motifs, such as human figures and hundred pace pit viper, were only for the upper classes. In Maolin, long known for its large butterfly populations, ceremonial clothing once featured embroidered versions of these insects.

In addition to their clothing, women of the upper classes could be differentiated by the tattoos on the backs of their hands. A repeating cross pattern was reserved exclusively for the nobility. Noble women considered by the elders to be of virtue adorned their headdresses with a pure white lily during special ceremonies. For men, the white lily was an honor given to symbolize excellence in hunting or defending the village against enemy attacks.

Celebrations and ceremonies
The Rukai observe many traditions associated with various stages in life, such as blessings for infants and coming-of-age rites.

Annual millet harvest festival: Village residents give thanks for the year's harvest and hope for a coming year of plenty. The place upon which the ceremony takes place is considered sacred land.. The ceremony begins with the entrance of the male elders and warriors bringing food offerings such as pork. Each of the males wears a headdress, and some are highly elaborate, alluding to a high status or a high number of honours received.


The males of the village pray to the ancestors and tribal deities for blessings. It is also the men who partake of millet liquor. Usually, this millet liquor was given to the chieftain and elders of the tribe first, and if there was any remaining the younger members would be able to try some, but this was rare. Thus, the Rukai, as with most of the indigenous tribes in Taiwan, did not have a traditional drinking culture. In fact, in the Rukai language, there was no word for alcohol. Instead, millet liquor was referred to as "water that makes one less shy".

To include the females of the village and to infuse a festive air, a large tripod-like swing was prepared. Only unmarried women were allowed on the swing. She would receive a push to get her started, from one of the males of the village, and then she bent and extended her legs to swing higher. It is thought that the higher she rose, the closer she would be to heaven and the more blessings she would receive. This swing also features prominently in Rukai wedding ceremonies.

Eastern Taiwan- Amis Kavalan tribe (噶瑪蘭族)

Amis is by far the largest of Taiwan's officially recognized indigenous tribes. Traditionally, the Amis possessed a matrilineal society.
Traditional Lifestyles
Women inherited the family property and children were named according to their mother's name. Men were expected to marry into a woman's family. To be able to marry, a man would have to work in his prospective wife's home for up to three years to prove his diligence to her parents. A husband might be in danger of being thrown out of his home if he became seriously ill and unable to work, if he ate too much, if he was lazy or if he and his wife had failed to bear a daughter, as girls were especially prized.
Although women were responsible for the major decisions in their individual households, the political decisions of the village were made by men. Division of labor among the men was based on a strict age hierarchy, and there are specific rites performed to recognize that a male has reached adulthood.

In terms of food, they ate what they could gather, hunt and catch. Fish, freshwater and marine, were a main staple of the Amis diet and were accompanied by wild greens.
Festivals and ceremonies
The celebrations of the harvest begin in mid-July with the last ending in late August. It lasted for several days where members of each village dancing continuously in a circle to the chants of a selected "singer".
Among the Amis, shamans play important roles during major ceremonies and conduct healing rites which call upon the ancestral spirits. It was thought that illness was brought about due to a wrongdoing on the part of the patient or by someone close to him/her or to some other spiritually related reason. Only by seeking the forgiveness and help of the ancestral spirits could one be expected to be cured.
Traditional arts and culture
In terms of the arts, the Amis excels at woodcarving and at creating beaded jewellery and decorative items.

Their languages

Hello, Aneohaseyo, Ni Hao, konichiwa! 

This is a sample of Hokkien Song which is known as 福建话

The official language spoken in Taiwan is Mandarin, but due to the fact that many Taiwanese are of southern Fujianese descent, Min-nan (the Southern Min dialect, or Holo) is also widely spoken. The smaller groups of Hakka people and aborigines have also preserved their own languages. Many elderly people are also capable of speaking Japanese as they were subjected to Japanese education before Taiwan was returned to Chinese rule in 1945 after the Japanese occupation which lasted for half a century. The most popular foreign language in Taiwan is English, which is part of the regular school curriculum.

Their mode of education

Study, Study Study!!! 

The education system in Taiwan has been improving compared to the previous system.
To date, the education system has implemented new syllabus to enhance students’ learning. Although the current law mandates only nine years of schooling, 95% of the students continue to pursue higher education at high, trade school or college.
The literacy rate was 96.1% in 2003.
Here’s a brief introduction of the education system in Taiwan. The school year consists of two semesters. The first semester begins in early September and runs till late January or early February. Winter vacation typically runs from two to three weeks around the Lunar New Year. Spring semester begins following the Lantern Festival in mid February and ends in early June. Despite the name, in many cases participation is compulsory. The language of instruction is Mandarin. This is due to the four seasons in Taiwan as compared to local education system where we do not have the four seasons.
Primary Education
The primary education in Taiwan is 6 years. They cover 8 subjects in the primary education however it depends on the school. The subjects are:
§  Mandarin: The official language of instruction.
§  Mathematics: Mathematics education begins with the basics and reaches introductory algebra and geometry by the 6th grade.
§  Science: Comprehensive science classes covering basic biology, physics, and chemistry.
§  English: English is a compulsory subject within the mainstream school system from Grade 3 Elementary School and up.
§  Native languages: Additional language classes in Taiwanese and Hakka are offered.
§  Social studies
§  Music
§  Art
Secondary Education
The secondary system is divided into 3 sectors: junior high school, senior high school and vocational high school.
Junior high school: grade 7 to 9. At the end of their third year, students participate in the national senior high school entrance exams and are assigned to senior high schools based upon their scores. This is similar to local education where the secondary school students take their o’levels. Roughly 94.7% of junior high school students continue on to senior high or vocational school.
Vocational school is a three year institute in which the subjects mainly focus on hands-on and practical skills. The subjects include electrical engineering, civil engineering, computer science and business.
Higher Education
Higher education is basically provided through universities. The number of years to study depends on the course of their choice. For example, medical school requires more years of education compared to courses like business.

Types of Leisure Programmes (E.g. festivals, events, sports, other recreational activities…)

Its time to Play, Enjoy & Shop!!

The people in Taiwan, like any other Asia country, celebrate festivals. However, it is the way the people celebrate their festivals that makes Taiwan unique. Some of the festivals might be new and uncommon to us, such as ‘Earth God Day’ and Cultural Opera’ festivals which are not seen in Singapore and many other countries.


Taiwanese celebrate almost all the festivals in the lunar calendar.
 (1) Chinese New Year
The biggest event on the Taiwanese calendar, like everywhere else in the Chinese world, is the New Year. The New Year marks the beginning of spring. It is a festival of renewal. Thus, before spring arrives, all the households will have to clean their homes. For Buddhists, families will go to the temple to pray. 

2) Lantern Festival

Two weeks after Chinese New Year, the New Year season officially ends, and its closure is celebrated with the Lantern Festival. In many ways, it is a more dazzling public holiday than New Year itself. Streets, temples and parks in all the cities are lit up with lights, lanterns and electrified floats. 

(3) Earth God Day
The 2nd day of the 2nd month on the Chinese calendar is set aside to worship earth deities. People lay out special offerings to the gods in their local shrines, and Taoist temples hold more elaborate celebrations.

(4) Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon boat festivals are celebrated in the memory of Chu Yuan, a great poet who committed suicide in the river. Boat races have been held in his honour, and everyone will eat dumplings made of sticky rice and wrapped in leaves of bamboo. In the past, villagers throw dumplings into the river so that the fishes in the river will not eat Chu Yuan’s body.

(5) Ghost Month
The seventh month of the lunar calendar, which usually falls around August, is a time when the gates of the underworld are swung open, and the spirits are set free to roam the earth. In every street and alley, people burn spirit money to make the wandering ghosts happy, and make special offerings to their own departed kin.
Throughout the whole month, most Chinese refuse to go near water for fear of water spirits. Those foolish enough not to believe in ghosts might find it an opportune time to hit the beach.

(6) Mid-Autumn Festival
Mid-Autumn Festival is dedicated to the poetic beauty of the moon. Held on the full moon of the eighth month, it is celebrated through gatherings with friends and families to eat the mooncake.

 (6)Cultural Operas
One of the most rewarding cultural excursions in Taiwan is traditional Chinese Opera. Chinese operas are, of course, first and foremost stories. It can be stories from the past. In Opera, the actors and actress will have to paint their faces with colours and customer of the past
Night Markets

In my opinion, Taiwan’s night market has also become one of its leisure programmes. Night market in our local term is ‘pasar malam’ which is also the same meaning as night market, local ‘pasar malam’ happens only once in a while.  The unique selling point of Night market in Taiwan is that it is there all year round. According to the name, it takes place at night and it is also in the night where there is a crowd of people. The night market has also become one of the tourist attractions in Taiwan. Night markets in Taiwan have become famous for their xiaochi foods (xiaochi roughly translates as "small eats" or finger foods).
Here are some of the Night markets in Taiwan:
Shida Night Market
 (traditional Chinese: 師大路夜市)
Shilin Night Market (traditional Chinese: 士林夜市), Shilin
Danshui Night Market, Danshui (traditional Chinese: 淡水夜市)
Miaokou Night Market (traditional Chinese: 廟口夜市)

The common sports found in Taiwan are:
·         Baseball
·         Basketball
·         Football
·         Rugby union
·          Volleyball

Baseball in Taiwan is the leading sports in Taiwan. It is well-recognized in the country. The Chinese Taipei baseball team is currently the fifth ranked baseball team in the world.

Here is a brief description of how baseball is played:
  1. Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The goal is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot square. 
  2. There are two teams, the batting and fielding team. The teams switch between batting and fielding whenever the fielding team records three outs.   
  3. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins. 
  4. Players on the batting team take turns hitting against the pitcher of the fielding team, which tries to stop them from scoring runs by getting hitters out.  
Basketball is the most popular ball sport in Taiwan that people actually play
Football is not as popular as baseball or basketball in Taiwan, although it has a history of success at the Asian level