Sun, Apr 14, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Songs preserve culture: Sangpuy

‘NOT FOR PLEASURE’:The Puyuma performer said that Aborigines in Taiwan are not alone in seeing their language slowly die out and his mission was to help preserve it

By Yang Yuan-ting and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Puyuma singer Sangpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw performs at the National Theater in Taipei on Friday.

Photo provided by the National Theater Concert Hall

Aboriginal communities sing not for pleasure, but to preserve their culture and history, Puyuma singer Sangpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw said on Friday.

“The stereotype of Aborigines is that we love to sing. However, we do not sing for the pleasure of singing. Instead, we sing because song is the medium through which Aboriginal culture and history are passed down from generation to generation,” Sangpuy said ahead of a performance at the National Theater in Taipei.

Sangpuy gained fame domestically and abroad with his album Yaangad, which means “life” in the Puyuma language.

He bases his songs on actual events, Sangpuy said.

“I am inspired by everyday life. I feel that if I create something that even I like and am moved by, it would move others,” he said.

He writes about environmental issues that he has seen, but have not garnered much attention, such as spent nuclear rods on Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼), plans to build a solar installation in the Jhihben Wetlands (知本濕地) in his home county of Taitung and attempts in 2012 to relocate traditional burial grounds to develop tourism.

He uses his songs to introduce Taiwan to his audience, allowing them a glimpse of the nation and showing them that Mandarin is not the only language spoken here, Sangpuy said.

He uses natural elements in his compositions and insists on singing in the Puyuma language.

“Aborigines are not alone in seeing their language slowly die out; it is a situation shared by minorities the world over,” Sangpuy said.

As long as he continues to create in Puyuma and speak it on a daily basis, the Puyuma people continue to live, he said.

Despite his emphasis on the language, Sangpuy said that he does not see the need to change his official name, Lu Chieh-hsing (盧皆興), to his Aboriginal name.

“Everyone in the village [Katatipul in Taitung] calls me Sangpuy. They know me as Sangpuy,” he said, adding that it is important what his people call him, not what his identification card shows.

He left the village at the age of 27, which was perhaps why he placed great stock in his people’s traditions and culture, Sangpuy said, adding that his first album, Dalan, also influenced him.

He created Dalan with his father, who died before its release, which convinced him to continue creating music, he said.

“I believe it was, in part, my father’s last wish [to remain a full-time musician], while my belief that music helps preserve our traditions was also a factor” in his career path, Sangpuy said.

“As fish require water to swim and birds the sky to fly, so do I require music to be myself,” Sangpuy said.

This story has been viewed 2457 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top