Thu, Jun 16, 2016 - Page 5 News List

Heritage sites, ceremonies listed in Pingtung County

GENERATION OF WORSHIPERS:An altar made of human skulls dating back 400 years was assembled by Paiwan warriors and is one of the largest in the region

By Chiu Chih-jou and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Pingtung County Government on Tuesday approved the listing of heritage sites, ceremonies and protection of Paiwan artifacts.

The artifacts include a skull altar and ceremonial house with a wall relief of human faces, both in Wangjia Township’s (望嘉) old village; the former Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) railroad crossing through Chaojhou Township (潮州); the Chang family’s ancestral residence in the north gate area of Hengchun Township (恆春); the Shan Mu Catholic Church in Sinpi Township (新埤); maljeveq ceremonies — a ceremony to worship ancestors — in the Bailu (白鷺) and Wangjia townships (望嘉); the pusau ceremony — a ceremony to send ancestors away — in Laiyi Township (來義), and a ceremonial procession called xun nan ding (巡男丁) in Pingtung County’s Haifong Township (海豐).

The government said the rack of skulls in Laiyi Township is the largest among Paiwan relics, and is the most well-preserved altar made from human skulls, a site that experts believe dates back 400 years.

Laiyi Township Mayor Tou Wang-yi (竇望義) said the altar was built over many years and has many skulls that Paiwan warriors took when head-hunting — a practice that proved the mettle of a warrior and maximized the use of limited resources among different villages.

The ceremonial house with a wall relief of human faces has seen generations of Paiwan worship, Tou said, adding that the building was also important for tracing the migration of the Cimo people.

It is believed that Cimos migrated to Taiwan from Siaoliouciou Island (小琉球) and then split into two subgroups, one remaining in Laiyi Township and being assimilated with Paiwans, while another group crossed the mountains into Taitung, later merging with a group of Puyuma people.

The county government’s Department of Cultural Affairs said that Wangjia Township’s old village played an important role in the history of the Paiwan people and suggested that the area become a “cultural sightseeing” destination.

The government said it listed a railway bridge as a designated heritage site in an effort to prevent further damage, after a planned cycle path across the bridge caused damage last year.

The catholic church in Sinpi was built in 1965 using pebble stones from the nearby Laiyi River (來義溪). German architects hired by the Order of Preachers designed the church, known for its unusual hexagonal roof.

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