Wed, Jun 20, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Aborigines set off aboard traditional Tao wooden boat

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Twelve Tao Aborigines from Lanyu (蘭嶼), also known as Orchid Island, set off early yesterday on a traditional Tao wooden boat on a journey they hope will take them along the east coast.

Lin Chien-hsiang (林建享), an organizer of the project, said in Taipei yesterday that the boat, christened Ipanga Na 1001, left Langdao on Lanyu at 4:30am during a thunderstorm.

The first leg of the journey will take the 12 men to Taitung, 60km west of Lanyu, although the route will be much longer as the boat has to cross the Kuroshio current flowing northward off the coast of eastern Taiwan.

Lin said the boat, made from 60 planks of wood and measuring 10m long, 1.7m wide and 2.7m high, is the biggest traditional Tao boat made in living memory.

Five Tao fishing clans began construction of the boat last November and it was completed last month, Lin said.

L:in came up with the project to prove that the Tao's ancestors could have journeyed from island to island throughout the south Pacific in their small boats.

Capable of carrying between 12 and 14 rowers, the vessel set out at a speed of 9kph to 12kph and entered the Kuroshio current at 9am yesterday, Lin said.

He said he expected the vessel would arrive off the coast of Taitung by 9pm.

After that, Lin said, four teams of Tao crew members will take turns rowing the boat north along the coastline to Taipei.

The Tao, with a population of approximately 4,000, live mainly on Lanyu.

Their ancestors are believed to have arrived on the island from Batan in the Philippines.

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