Wed, Mar 11, 2015 - Page 10 News List

Paiwan ancestral post may be a national treasure
泰武佳平四面女祖靈柱 申列國寶

The six-fingered hands a human figure carved on an ancestral house-post are shown in a presentation in Pingtung County on March 3.

Photo: Chiu Chih-jou, Liberty Times

The house of Zingrur, chief of Kaviyangan (Jiaping) Village in Pingtung County’s Taiwu Township, has ancestral house-posts carved with distinctive local totems. One of them, called a muakaikai, has images of female family ancestors carved on all four sides. As well as having six fingers on each hand, the carved figures have eyes on their knees. National Taiwan University has applied for this house-post to be listed as a national treasure and, following a review, the listing may be announced as early as the end of this month, making it the second ancestral post from Kaviyangan to be thus listed.

The muakaikai ancestral house-post is about 170cm tall. The human images are shown holding their hands up at chest level, and there are six fingers on the left and right hands. Multiple ring patterns on the wrists, arms and calves are a symbol of the local nobility. In addition, there are round, eye-like patterns on the knees. As to when the post was carved, it can no longer be known for sure.

The muakaikai ancestral house-post is a typical Kaviyangan-style carving, and the eyes on the knees and six-fingered hands stem from Paiwan myths and legends. This house-post was purchased in 1931 by the Japanese-era Taihoku Imperial University — today’s National Taiwan University (NTU) — for use as teaching material. According to research by the late Japanese architect Suketaro Chijiiwa, the muakaikai post is the only existing ancestral house-post in Taiwan that is carved on all four sides.

Adrucangalj Taluviljav, head of the social affairs section of Taiwu Township Office, says that a village meeting was held in Kaviyangan Village on March 2. Some people said they were worried that the wooden carving was becoming badly eroded and decayed. People at the meeting agreed that the ancestral pole could be listed as a national treasure and preserved forever. Members of the tribe think that if the muakaikai post is indeed listed as a national treasure, it should be treated as if it were a daughter of the village. They would like NTU to follow tradition by offering betrothal gifts such as earthenware jars and glazed beads, so that the muakaikai post can be “married off” in respectable fashion.


1. distinctive adj.

特殊的 (te4 shu1 de5)

例: Aedes mosquitos, which spread dengue fever, have distinctive markings on their bodies.


2. stem v.

源自 (yuan2 zi4)

例: French, Spanish and Italian all stem from the Latin language of ancient Rome.


3. decayed adj.

腐蝕 (fu3 shi2)

例: The wooden doorframe is decayed beyond repair and will have to be replaced.


(Liberty Times, Translated by Julian Clegg)





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