"Once upon a time, a stone named Pinspkan cracked apart and in it were three people. However, for an undisclosed reason, one of them decided to return back into the stone. Then there were two. The remaining one man and one woman then lived together for a very long time and they loved each other very much. Unfortunately, the man was too shy and would not approach the girl and tell her how he felt.The woman then came up with an idea because she could not bear to see how the man was too shy to confess to her. She firstly left her home and found some coal and with it, she blackened her face with it so she could pose as a different girl. After several days, she crept back into their home and the man mistook her for another girl and they lived happily ever after. Not long after, the couple bore children, fulfilling their mission of procreating the next generation."
This is the legend about the creation of the Atayal (also known as the Tayal and the Tayan), the second-largest aboriginal tribal group in Taiwan, after Amis. They originally lived by fishing, hunting, gathering, and growing crops on burned-off mountain fields, but also practices crafts such as weaving, net knotting, and woodworking. The Atayal were known as fierce fighters as observed in the case of the Wushe Incident in which they fought the Japanese.
The most distinctive feature of the Atayal is their facial tattoos, which carry a great deal of significance for them. First of all, they signify that an individual has reached adulthood and the age of marriage. Males must headhunt and women must learn to weave to be eligible to receive facial tattoos. On the other hand, they believe that it's by the facial tattoo that the spirits of dead Atayal ancestors recognize the spirits of descendants. The authorities strictly prohibited this custom during the Japanese occupation, so the younger generation no longer tattoos their faces, as can be seen in the postcard.
About the stamps
The first stamp is one of the two issued on December 3, 2012, to commemorate the Year of the Snake (which started on February 10, 2013). The vignette of each of the stamps features an artistically papercutted snake or a pair of snakes colored in bright yellow and royal purple against a pale-orange background with random yellow splatters:
• The long bodies curled against each other in symmetry and the heads pointing to opposite directions, this pair of snakes represents the spirit of "one mind" and symbolizes "warmth and all one’s wishes will come true." (3.50 TWD) - it's on this postcard
• The snake’s head surges forward, with the plump, curved body curling behind. The snake looks spirited and ready to spring into action. This image represents "courage" and symbolizes "marching ahead bravely." (13.00 TWD)
The second stamp is one of the two issued to commemorate the Year of Dragon, about which I wrote here.
The third stamp is part of the series Food Crop Postage Stamps - Grains, issued on March 5, 2013. The four stamps features a type of gramineous plants:
• Rice / Oryza sativa (5 TWD) - it's on this postcard
• Millet / Setaria italica (7 TWD)
• Maize / Zea mays (10 TWD)
• Wheat / Triticum aestivum (25 TWD)
Atayal people - Wkipedia
Atayal - Digital Museum of Taiwan Indigenous People
A story of a stone and its significance - pateljal.com
An introduction to the Atayal - edu.ocac.gov.tw
Atayal costume - edu.ocac.gov.tw
New Year’s Greeting Postage Stamps (Issue of 2012) - Stamp Treasure
Food Crop Postage Stamps - Grains - Stamp Treasure
sender: Aurélie W. (direct swap)
sent from Tainan City (Taiwan), on 04.2013