June 1, 2013

0663 TAIWAN - Amis young women dancing at the Adult Ceremony

The Amis are the largest ethnic group among the fourteen officially recognized peoples of Taiwanese aborigines, and they identify themselves as Pangcah, which means "human being", "people with the same ethnicity", or "people of the same descent". Even though their communities have been moved many times due to interaction with other ethnic groups and geographical factors, can be considered that their traditional territory include the narrow valley between the Central Mountains and the Coastal Mountains, the Pacific coastal plain eastern to the Coastal Mountains, and the Hengchun Peninsula, so they are considered to be "Plain Aborigines".

The age-set system and matrilineal kinship organization are two main characteristics of Amis communities. The elders are endowed with political powers by the tribe. The Amis' culture is very tolerant and very open to other cultures, so on the one hand they have integrated members of other ethnic groups, and on the other they resettled to urban Taipei and formed the oldest urban aboriginal group, as early as the period of Japanese rule (1895-1945). Also they have combined folk religion with foreign religions in both teachings and practices.

Previously, rituals and rites in Amis customs were mostly related to rituals of the life cycle, seasonal agricultural rituals, or rituals performed to escape evil and misfortune. All of the rituals have undergone modifications with time, today the Harvest Festival being the best known. It lasts to one day for some tribes up to seven, and is held on the full moon day after the autumn gathering of rice, so varies from one tribe to another. For example the Amis in Taitung area celebrates in lunar July; the one in Hualien area celebrates in lunar August.

As I wrote before, the age structure of males (the elder, the adult and the adolescence) is at the center of all the concerning, because it's the key in deciding the tribe’s social rules. Therefore the Adult Ceremony has the significant meaning for Amis, and is an important part of the Harvest Festival. After that, adolescences become the real men of the tribe. In the day of ceremony, the candidates take a barrel of wine and a chick from their house to the certain place. The elders and the priest will read the good words to them and wish them good luck. Race of running is the special test for them, and passing this program would be symbol of one being an adult and can serve the tribe. In the postcard are Amis young women dancing at the Adult Ceremony in Hualien.

About the stamp
The stamp is one of the two issued on February 4, 2013 for Valentine's Day. The motif of the stamps is a heart-shaped pattern that consists of three roses in full bloom. Every rose constitutes six numbers: 201314, a play on the homonymic relation with the declaration, "my love for you is eternal".

Amis people - Wikipedia
Amis - Digital Museum of Taiwan Indigenous Peoples
Amis Tribe - Taiwan Indigenous Culture Park

sender: Aurélie W. (direct swap)
sent from Tainan City (Taiwan), on 04.2013

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