Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - Page 11 News List

The Paiwan version of zongzi
排灣族包粽 長條形蝸牛餡

A Paiwan woman makes zongzi in Taitung County on June 23.

Photo: Chen Hsien-yi, Liberty Times

The Paiwan tribe of Nanhui Township in Taitung County are no exception when it comes to making zongzi (glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves) for the Dragon Boat Festival, which are called cheenafu in the Paiwan language. However, the shape and fillings used in Paiwan zongzi are quite different, and the Paiwan wrap glutinous rice in small shellflower leaves, forming a long and slender shape. Fillings differ according to personal preference. Some people like to fill them with fish from the river, snails or preserved mountain pork, while some people even put a big piece of salted mountain pork inside, creating flavors that are just as tasty as the typical Taiwanese zongzi.

Aboriginal zongzi are more unique than the ones made in non-Aboriginal areas. Chelengleng, a woman living in a local village in Taitung County, says that in ancient times cheenafu were usually only made during special occasions, for example, when children were being named, during harvest festivals or when nobility were getting married. Knowledge from their ancestors about how to make cheenafu has been passed down from generation to generation, and the Paiwan are very particular about the cheenafu-making process. She says that each village has its own distinct style due to the different foods that are grown locally. Some of the ingredients they use include taro root powder, millet, glutinous rice and sorghum powder. Cheenafu usually have a meat filling, while the outside is covered with nicandra leaves, which increases their aroma and creates a unique flavor, while at the same time decreasing the chances of uncomfortable bloatedness. The final product has a long, narrow shape.


1. snail /snel/ n.

蝸牛 (gua1 niu2)

例: Why are there always snails all over the sidewalk when it rains?


2. preserved adj.

醃的 (yan1 de5)

例: They eat a lot of preserved foods because they don’t have refrigerators.


3. nobility n.

貴族 (gui4 zu2)

例: The prince and the princess were among the nobility attending the ceremony.


Chelengleng says that the labor is split between men and women. Men are responsible for going up the mountain to pick nicandra leaves, while women are responsible for soaking the leaves, cooking the filling, and preserving the pork. In the past, the elderly would sing traditional songs and chat with the people making the cheenafu while sitting next to them, or use it as an opportunity to impart their knowledge. When the food is done cooking, the first thing that is done is letting the elderly try it, which is one part of traditional ethics that remains unchanged.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)





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