Culture - Chinese

WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 19497 [post_author] => 145 [post_date] => 2014-10-25 11:30:37 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-10-25 06:00:37 [post_content] => The Saisiats, also known as Saisiyats, are Taiwan’s smallest aboriginal group. They live in the mountainous area overlapping the borders between Wufeng in Hsinchu County and Dungho Village, Dyi Village, and Nanchuang in Miaoli County. Legend has it that the Saisiat Tribe and the dark-skinned Short People were friendly neighbours. In fact, the short people even taught Saisiats the technique to harvest and plant. Both the tribes were happy and prosperous and they lived in peace and harmony.

The Saisiat Festival in TaiwanImage: timogan used under the Creative Commons Licence

However, this changed when the Short People started flirting excessively with the Saisiat’s women, triggering many conflicts leading to the death of many Short People. The survivors from the Short People tribe cursed the Saisiat with bad fortune for their ungratefulness. Because of that, the Saisiat people placate these angry spirits by performing The Saisiat Festival. It is a ceremony where the Saisiats pay homage to the Short People and amend the injustice of their ancestors. The ceremony, which goes on for three nights and four days, is divided into three major parts:

1) Welcoming the spirits:

The festival begins in the wee hours of the first day, where the people welcome the Short spirits by facing towards east and singing to them.  At the end of the day, during sunset, the Saisiat stand alone, in a circle, and call out to the Short spirits. They request the spirits to come and take their ease, to receive their offering and share in the bounties of the year's labour. After the prayer, the folks stand in large circles, shoulder to shoulder and begin dancing by linking their arms with each other and swaying.

2) Pleasing the spirits:

On the evening of the second day, Saisiats commemorate the day with the Short People by dancing and singing.

3) Farewell to the spirits:

In the evening of the third day, the farewell song and dance begins, which goes on non-stop until the dawn of the next day. The Saisiat’s Short Spirit Ceremony is the most solemn of the Taiwan aboriginal ceremonies. Their ceremonial songs, which are rich in literary content, are danced to and sung by all the participants. Dancing and singing are the key characteristics of this ceremony, whereas visitors and local citizens get to witness the ritual on certain nights. So if the Saisiat Festival sounds like your cup of tea, do head to the indigenous Saisiat communities of Taiwan on the 15th day of the tenth lunar month to witness it for yourself. [post_title] => The Saisiat Festival in Taiwan [post_excerpt] => The Saisiat Festival placates anger and pays homage to the Short People. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-saisiat-festival-taiwan [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-03 14:14:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-03 03:14:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://asianinspirations.com.au/?post_type=culture&p=19497 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => asian-culture [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )

The Saisiat Festival in Taiwan

The Saisiats, also known as Saisiyats, are Taiwan’s smallest aboriginal group. They live in the mountainous area overlapping the borders between Wufeng in Hsinchu County and Dungho Village, Dyi Village, and Nanchuang in Miaoli County. Legend has it that the Saisiat Tribe and the dark-skinned Short People were friendly neighbours. In fact, the short people even taught Saisiats the technique to harvest and plant. Both the tribes were happy and prosperous and they lived in peace and harmony.

The Saisiat Festival in TaiwanImage: timogan used under the Creative Commons Licence

However, this changed when the Short People started flirting excessively with the Saisiat’s women, triggering many conflicts leading to the death of many Short People. The survivors from the Short People tribe cursed the Saisiat with bad fortune for their ungratefulness. Because of that, the Saisiat people placate these angry spirits by performing The Saisiat Festival. It is a ceremony where the Saisiats pay homage to the Short People and amend the injustice of their ancestors. The ceremony, which goes on for three nights and four days, is divided into three major parts:

1) Welcoming the spirits:

The festival begins in the wee hours of the first day, where the people welcome the Short spirits by facing towards east and singing to them.  At the end of the day, during sunset, the Saisiat stand alone, in a circle, and call out to the Short spirits. They request the spirits to come and take their ease, to receive their offering and share in the bounties of the year’s labour. After the prayer, the folks stand in large circles, shoulder to shoulder and begin dancing by linking their arms with each other and swaying.

2) Pleasing the spirits:

On the evening of the second day, Saisiats commemorate the day with the Short People by dancing and singing.

3) Farewell to the spirits:

In the evening of the third day, the farewell song and dance begins, which goes on non-stop until the dawn of the next day.

The Saisiat’s Short Spirit Ceremony is the most solemn of the Taiwan aboriginal ceremonies. Their ceremonial songs, which are rich in literary content, are danced to and sung by all the participants. Dancing and singing are the key characteristics of this ceremony, whereas visitors and local citizens get to witness the ritual on certain nights.

So if the Saisiat Festival sounds like your cup of tea, do head to the indigenous Saisiat communities of Taiwan on the 15th day of the tenth lunar month to witness it for yourself.

You May Also Like

Inspirational Stories

Inspirational Stories

Family Holidays

Family Holidays

CNY 2016 WINNERS

Kate Brodhurst

Rosalin Kristiani

Glenda Mc Donnell

Michael J Sabo

Melinda Savage

Lisa-Jane Fudge

Lillie Giang

Justine Withers

Julia Brodska

Josephine Chan

Sally-Ann Haw

Store Locator

Find your nearest Asian Store

Search


Our Newsletter

Sign up for an authentic Asian experience. From exotic cuisines to fascinating destinations to cooking competitions and monthly giveaways - Discover the Authentic