Wed, Jul 26, 2017 - Page 3 News List

DPP legislator urges Aborigines to make sailboats

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

National Cheng Kung University Institute of Archeology director Liu Yi-chang, left, speaks yesterday at a news conference in Taipei called by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kolas Yotaka, center, to call for a revival of Aboriginal sailboat building.

Photo: Peng Wan-hsin, Taipei Times

Aborigines should revive the art of making sailboats to recover their connection with Austronesian people worldwide, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kolas Yotaka and Aboriginal culture advocates said yesterday.

At a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, Kolas said when she visited Maori in New Zealand and told them she came from Taiwan, they often responded: “That is where our ancestors came from.”

“In our school textbooks we were always told to look to China, but we have never looked to the east and the Pacific Ocean,” she said.

Council For Farangaw Autonomy chairman Raranges Hoki Na Tungaw (羅福慶) said his organization has been trying to revive the Aboriginal art of making sailboats, what the Amis call fayan.

A fayan is a boat made of bamboo poles and a triangular or rectangular sail, he said.

His elders used to cross the “black tides” between Taiwan and Green Island (綠島) on this type of boat, he said.

Raranges said the council successfully reproduced a traditional sailboat in 2014 for the first time since the tradition died out and it now hopes the art can be handed down to the younger generation.

“Our culture has been withering, which makes us feel very insecure and anxious,” he said, adding that reproducing the sailboat would be one way to revive Aborigines’ adventurous spirit that connects them to the ocean.

Foundation of Ocean Taiwan chief executive officer Liu Chiung-hsi (劉炯錫) said his organization plans to visit Aboriginal elders in the east to collect more knowledge and stories about making boats.

The foundation would invite elders of the Taumako on the Solomon Islands to exchange their sailing knowledge with Taiwanese Aborigines next month or in September, he said, adding that the foundation also plans to sail its boats to Okinawa, Japan, next year.

“Sailing is the instinct of Austronesian Aborigines,” National Cheng Kung University Institute of Archeology director Liu Yi-chang (劉益昌) said.

“The ocean is not a barrier, but a pathway,” Liu said.

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