July 3, 2013

0716 TAIWAN - A Seediq pair from Nantou playing the jaw harp

The Seediq (Sediq, Seejiq) are an aboriginal people who live primarily in Nantou County and Hualien County, and were officially recognised as Taiwan's 14th indigenous group in 2008. Seediq and Taiya share cultural similarities, in particular the importance of face tattoos and the “chucao” tradition of headhunting. They are also closely related to the Truku (Atayal), both tribes having the same origin and culture, but separated early on due to different lifestyles.

During the Japanese occupation, there were several bloody clashes between the three groups Seediq (the Tgdaya, Toda, and Truku) and authorities, which culminated in 1930 with Wushe Incident, when were killed over 130 Japanese, and in terrible subsequent retaliation died over 1,000 Seediq. The Chief Mona Rudao (or Mouna Rudao) committed suicide to prevent the Japanese from capturing him alive. He become part of Taiwanese popular culture, and his character took the part of protagonist in the 2011 Taiwanese film Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale.

Like most Austronesian groups, the Seediq are a small-scale farming and hunter-gatherer society. The male hunts and plants highland rice, and females weave and plants yams. The Seediq and the Atayals are the only two aboriginal groups in Taiwan that tattoo their faces. This custom are an important spiritual and social practice. According to Kuo Ming-cheng, "a Seediq male will get a tattoo on his forehead when he is seven, but if he wants a tattoo on his chin, he has to win it by cutting off the head of an enemy and bringing it home." On the other hand, if a woman wants to earn a facial tattoo, she has to learn the art of weaving. Even more importantly, Seediqs who don't have tattoos cannot cross the hakaw utux or rainbow bridge, a bridge that leads to where the spirits of their ancestors are gathered, after they die.

The Seediq in the postcard play the jaw harp, a lamellophone instrument which is in the category of plucked idiophones: it consists of a flexible metal or bamboo tongue or reed attached to a frame. The tongue/reed is placed in the performer's mouth and plucked with the finger to produce a note. This musical instrument is used by many peoples all around the world.

About the stamps
The first stamp, depicting the white tiger, is part of a second set of Lucky Animals, about which I wrote here.

The second is part of series of five about Qing Dynasty Embroidery from the National Museum of History’s collection (all with the same face value, 10 TWD):
• peacocks and scholar’s rocks - it's on this postcard
• a snow crane, a bat, mynahs and reishi mushrooms
• a snow crane, a pine tree and orchids
• paradise flycatchers, plum blossoms, bamboo, and magnolia flowers
• a pair of Mandarin ducks, a kingfisher and lotus flowers

Seediq - Wikipedia
Men Hunt, Women Weave: the aboriginal tribe Seediq - culture.tw
Jew's harp - Wikipedia
The flowing, echoing sound of the mouth harp - Compass

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

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