Bamboo Forest: Kaohsiung Harbor, Taiwan
Bamboo Forests surround Kaohsiung Harbor in Taiwan. They are a dense green and beautiful! The Aboriginal Makatau language first called Kaohsiung, TaKau. Takau means bamboo forests in this Siraya Aboriginal Tribal tongue. Before the 17th century, Takau Isle was inhabited by the Makatau clan of the Siraya Aboriginal Tribe. Maka or Mata means eyes in most of the indigenous languages of Taiwan. Kaohsiung Harbor was famous early on as a natural lagoon port. Bamboo and salt were the first two early commodities that Kaohsiung became famous for. What a unique heritage, Kaohsiung Harbor has. But what happened to all the Makatau People who called Bamboo Forest home? Why are they missing from Bamboo Forest? By the time the English arrived there were no Makatau people left around Bamboo Forest or Kaohsiung. Their whereabouts became part of the great mystery. Where have the people gone?
One story told and recorded in the History of Fengshan by Wen-Da Chen was that a pirate called Lim To Khiam came to Southern Taiwan. At this time, the Army of the Ming Dynasty chased Lim To Khiam and his gang. It is believed that this gang used human blood to scare off evil spirits from their boats. Having built new boats in Takau, they were in need of fresh human blood. Thus there was a great massacre of the Makatau people and those left, fled to Akao Community further south. Currently most of the Makatau people live in and around Pingtung City, which used to be called Akao.
So where can you find the Makatau Aborigines today? Most of the Makatau can be found in and around Pingtung. If you are there on the 15 day of the first month of the lunar calendar, the Makatao have a very unique and old festival or Night Ceremony in the Kaboran community of Pingtung City. In the afternoon before the Night Ceremony, the Makatau hold a Dancing Drama. Both are worth attending if you are in the area of Bamboo Forest or Pingtung City during this time of the year. The Mata invite you to join them in their time of celebration. Come celebrate with Us!
Today, the Makatau are regarded as the “Eyes of The World” in Taiwan. May the whole world see the mysterious beauty of the Taiwanese indigenous cultures! May all the indigenous people throughout Asia understand that they are one family! May the Taiwanese indigenous people see their roots within the world as a whole. Taiwan is a small island, but the Taiwanese indigenous people or Mata have a great vision and see far! They have become ,”The Eyes of The World.”