Chapter 8 | Cultural Continuum among the Bunun of Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu), Southern Taiwan | Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines
Martin, S. A., & Blundell, D. (2017). Cultural continuum among the Bunun of Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu), southern Taiwan (pp. 215–246). In H. Chang and A. Mona [C. Tsai] (Eds.), Religion, law and state: Cultural re-invigoration in the new age. Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines and SMC: Taipei.
20th anniversary of Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines
In 2014, Dr. Martin, was invited to Taiwan to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines in cooperation with Academia Sinica, the foremost research institute in Taipei, ROC. The Museum offered Steven a place in their upcoming publication, a book to commemorate their 20th anniversary: Religion, Law and State: Cultural Re-invigoration in the New Age.
After three years of communication and collaboration, the Museum’s book has been published and is now available to English and Chinese readers.
Steven’s research was focused on the remote, high-mountain jungle valley of Laipunuk (內本鹿), in the inaccessible mountains of southern Taiwan, home of the Bunun tribe, the last Taiwanese headhunters.
Having lived with the Bunun tribespeople for five years, he recorded their ways of life, their songs, their traditions and their histories, as part of an oral ethnography project.
According to Steven, “Taiwan is the source of the centuries-long process of the peopling of the Pacific, the so-called ‘Pacific Rainbow’ that maps the migration of peoples, materials and languages across the islands of the Pacific, from Taiwan all the way across to Hawaii.”
Speaking for the Faculty of International Studies (FIS), Steven shared his experience:
“Their stories are the last of their kind, and it was an immense privilege to have the opportunity to document their lives.”
Martin, S. A., & Blundell, D. (2017). Cultural continuum among the Bunun of Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu), southern Taiwan (Ch. 8) (pp. 215–246). In H. Chang and A. Mona [C. Tsai] (Eds.), Religion, law and state: Cultural re-invigoration in the new age. Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines and SMC: Taipei.
Over the past century, the Bunun people, an Austronesian-speaking indigenous culture of Taiwan, have withstood acute marginalization resulting from outside incursion, particularly from the Japanese (1895–1945) and the Nationalist Government (since 1945). However, in recent years democratic reforms ushered in opportunities for cultural conservation and new sustainability through cultural resource management. This research is focused on a particular group of Is-bukun Bunun speakers from the high-mountain villages of Laipunuk, Yen-Ping Township, Taitung County, Southern Taiwan. It seeks to identify aspects of intersystem cultural continuum amidst acute social change induced by external pressures. The research employed the translation of rare Chinese documents and interpretation by scholars in the discipline, the recordation of oral history through video and audio devices, by in-depth interview, and through participant observation. The study found that the Bunun have demonstrated profound cultural resilience in the contexts of ritual dance, marriage, hunting, religion, and the identification of place. Cultural traditions and behaviors were often modified and adapted to fit within the cultural norms and expectations of dominant cultures, yet deep intrinsic meanings were carried forward, crossing spiritual and generational gaps. The research offers a window to Bunun epistemology and cultural systematics, exploring how indigenous peoples perpetuate their beliefs and values through internal cultural transformation; it serves to document the home-grown cultural resource management of a Taiwanese human treasure for English readers.
Keywords: Southern Taiwan, Bunun, Laipunuk, Formosan indigenous, Bunun Cultural and Educational Foundation, historical cultural continuum