Term Definition

The Yami tribe is located in the offshore Orchid Island of Taitung. It is the only tribe of oceanic culture in Taiwan. They have a population of about 3,500, spread over six villages on the island. Due to their isolated living environment, their culture is still kept relatively intact. Yami tribe has no leadership system. When disputes occur, the clan families and relatives are called upon to negotiate a settlement. The social affairs are administered by the male heads of the household, and by the community’s fishing groups. The creations of art and culture are abundant, such as the wood carving boats, silvery utensils, pottery, and mud dolls. Traditional houses are built underground to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Tribal ceremonies are held according to the activities relating to capturing the flying fish. The flying fish is regarded as sacred. Hair dancing by Yami women is a special tribal performance, unique among Taiwan’s indigenous peoples. Men’s warrior dance is used to display the strength and beauty of the body.

Source of Information: Council Of Indigenous Peoples - Yami


The Tsou tribe mostly lives in Alishan Township of Chiayi County, Sinyi Township in Nantou County and Tauyuan and Namasia Townships of Kaohsiung County. They have a total population about 6,500. Strict patriarchal structure and the well-organized small and large clans are the Tsou tribe’s social and political organization. Tribal affairs are conducted by men in the “Kuba”, a house where young people must live in for their training before getting married. Women must keep away from the “Kuba”. “Mayasvi”, the War ritual and ancestor spirit worship are the major religious ceremonies. The processes of maintaining “Kuba”, trimming of holy tree, welcoming the ancestral spirits, entertaining and seeing off the spirits are elaborate with singing, rhythm music, and dancing.

Source of Information: Council Of Indigenous Peoples - Tsou


The Truku tribe has about 24,000 people. Three to four hundred years ago, the Truku ancestors set off from Nantou County, conquered the natural obstacles and climbed over Mount Chilai in the Central Mountain Range to migrate along the Liwu River Valley to the east. For hundreds of years, Truku people have developed their own special culture. They fought against Japanese Army for a long time, and worked very hard to build up their communities for the future generation. Truku people are good at hunting, weaving, and knitting. They still keep their traditional techniques of knife-making and shaman sorcery up to now. Ceremony for worship of ancestor spirit is held every year.

Source of Information: Council Of Indigenous Peoples - Truku


The Thao tribe lives in Yuchih Township and Shueili Township in Nantou County with a total of about 648 people. The tribe’s legend said that their ancestors found Sun Moon Lake while they were chasing a white deer. Therefore, they moved there and settled down. The Thao tribe has a patriarchal society. They were deeply influenced by the Han culture, yet they still kept their cultural elements alive. “Ulalaluan”, the basket containing the ancestor spirit is hung in the corner wall of each household. This is not seen in other indigenous tribes of Taiwan. The tribal chief is the main decision maker regarding ceremony rituals of the community and also presides over social affairs. The position is usually inherited by the eldest son. The most representative is the Thao wooden pestle rhythm music and singing.

Source of Information: Council Of Indigenous Peoples - Thao


Mostly live in WufongVillage, Hsinchu County, Nanjuang and Shrtan Villages of Miaoli County. The population is estimated at 5300. Their social organization is maintained predominately by patriarchal structure. Traditionally, each clan has its totems or symbols. In Chin Dynasty they changed their original totems into Chinese surnames, such as "Feng for Wind", "Ri for Sun" and" Xia for Summer" etc. The most important traditional activity is “Pas-taai”. Neighboring closely with Atayal, Saisiyat is greatly influenced by it in culture.

Source of Information: Council Of Indigenous Peoples - Saisiyat


The Rukai tribe’s population is about 11,600. They live around Maulin Township of Kaohsiung County, Wutai Township of Pingtung County and Donghsing Township of Taitung County. The traditional social structure is divided into two hierarchy systems – the nobles and the commoners. The nobles have privileges conferred by the blood-line superiority as found in the Rukai mythology. They also have the ownership of lands, and other economic privileges. Common people can elevate their social status by the way of developing individual leadership, increasing harvest production, and also through marriage. Family property inheritance is by the eldest son.

Source of Information: Council Of Indigenous Peoples - Rukai


The Pinuyumayan Tribe inhabits the area in the south of Taitung Longitudinal Valley. At the peak of their military conquest, the Pinuyumayan tribe ruled over 72 aboriginal communities in the eastern part of Taiwan. At present, their population is about 11,000. The entire Pinuyumayan tribe may be divided into eight sub-tribes called “Pa-Sher-Fan”. These groups each have different mythology about their origins. The Beinan group said they were born from bamboo, and the Jiben group said they were born from stone. The traditional social organization is maintained by two systems: one is the family system with inheritance by the eldest daughter, and the other is organized by the different ages of males. Trakuban” is the political center and education place for the males. Before getting married, the men accept warrior training with the task of defending the community. The ranking is divided according to the age groups.

Source of Information: Council Of Indigenous Peoples - Pinuyumayan


Paiwan tribe is scattered on both sides of the southern Central Mountain Range - from north to Dawu Mountain, south to Hengchun, west to Fangliao, and east to Taimali of Taitung County.They are close to 86,000 in population. The chief of the noble class in each tribe is at the same time the leader in politics, military, and even in religion. Each clan is an independent and autonomous unit. As Paiwan tribe has a large population and the family-blood relationship is spread widely, the alliance between close relatives is common among the noble families. In some areas, a few noble chiefs rule over a big clan combined with the alliance of several communities. Colorful glazed beads, iron utensils, and silver jewelry are highly valued. The hundred-pace snake and the human-head designs on pottery urns, pots, and roof beams symbolize the superior status of the noble family. 

Source of Information: Council Of Indigenous Peoples - Paiwan


The Bunun tribe are scattered widely around Namasia Township of Kaohsiung County, Haiduang Township of Taitung County as well as in Nantou County. The Bunun tribe can be found in the areas of the Central Mountains with average altitude of 1,000 to 2,000 meters. They have a total population of about 50,000. The society is maintained mainly by patriarchal social structure. Family members may include non-family blood relation individuals. This is also the reason why Bunun traditional family residence is pretty large in size. Ceremonies are scheduled according to millet planting, weeding, and harvest. “Pasibutbut ”, which means “Praying for a Millet Harvest” is the most famous song, the wonderful eight-part harmony sung by the Bunun people during the weeding time. “Malahtangia” is considered the most important of the life ceremonial rituals for Bunun male’s passage into manhood.

Source of Information: Council Of Indigenous Peoples - Bunun


The Atayal tribe is distributed in the northern part of Taiwan’s Central Mountain areas, including the area north from Puli to Hualien. At present, the population is approximately 81,000. Slash-and-burn rotating farming and hunting are their traditional way of life. They have developed intricate fabric weaving skills, featuring sophisticated patterns and designs. To Atayal people, red color symbolizes blood, which represents the vitality of life and can keep evil spirit away; therefore red clothes are favored by them. Facial tattoos are the long-standing custom of the Atayal. Ancestral spirit worship is an important organized social activity. The worship rituals constitute the major religious ceremony. Music playing and dancing with Gan mouth string are the distinctive features of Atayal entertainment activities. 

Source of Information: Council Of Indigenous Peoples - Atayal


The area of Amis distribution stretches along plains around Mount Chilai in northern Hualien, south through to the long and narrow coastal plains and the hilly areas of Taitung and the Hengchun Peninsula of Pingtung. They have a total population of about 177,000, which is the largest among Taiwan’s indigenous peoples. The traditional social organization is based mainly on the matrilineal system. When marrying into the wife’s family, the male must move into the wife’s household residence. Family affairs including finance and property holdings are decided by the female head of household.Important affairs of the marriage or the allocation of wealth should be decided in a meeting with the uncles of the female household.The public affairs involving the community about tribal politics, laws, warfare, and religion are dealt with by an institution consisting of male leadership group of different of age ranks. The most important traditional ceremony is the Harvest Festival, which has rituals for celebrating the males entering the manhood and into a new age ranking group. 

Source of Information: Council Of Indigenous Peoples - Amis