A 227kg unexploded bomb dropped by the US on Taiwan during World War II has been anything but a dud during the past six decades, at least in the eyes of one Aboriginal tribe in Taitung County.
The Amis village of Tomiac in Chenggong Township (成功) has embraced the bomb as a good luck charm ever since it was found in Siaogang Harbor in the east coast township and carried back to the village after being disarmed.
The community’s elders decided to make it a warning bell, positioning it at the highest point in the village to alert residents of emergencies, such as fires and earthquakes, or to mobilize them for town meetings.
The story of the bomb resurfaced recently when an author of children’s books, Chou Yao-ping (周姚萍), published a picture book last month based on the story of the bomb-turned-bell.
Chu Shih-chieh (朱士杰), an employee at One and Half Studio, a cultural and historical workshop, said that Aborigines used to live in thatched houses, so fires were common.
Whoever noticed the fire first would run up the hill to ring the “bomb bell,” alerting villagers to the threat and getting them to help put out the blaze.
Fires became less frequent with time because the village’s thatched houses were gradually replaced with modern materials, so the bell became used by elders primarily to inform other members of the tribe about important matters.
After years of exposure to the wind and rain, the bell grew rusty, so in 2006 the villagers repainted the iconic symbol and built a protective pavilion around it.
The restoration of the bell and the construction of the pavilion was made into an eight-minute film that won an award from Taiwan’s National Youth Commission in 2006.