Accepted Paper:

Changes in burial customs of Taiwanese aborigines and their identity  


Soichiro Sunami (Gangoji institute for research of cultural property)

Paper short abstract:

This paper points out the changes in burial practices of Taiwanese aborigines, which initially emulated the indoor burial, and later adopted the Japanese-style grave marker, followed by the Han Chinese custom. It was shown clearly that external politics was the driving factor.

Paper long abstract:

Indoor burial, a characteristic of Austronesians, was a burial system common among the Taiwanese aborigines. However, after Japan occupied Taiwan, this practice came to an end because it was forbidden as a bad habit. Taiwanese aborigine's funeral attendance and burial customs changed with a change in policy makers. During the beginning of the Japanese reign, burials were performed in Japanese-style tomb; the burial custom of Han race was adopted after World War II. Moreover, the rise of native movements in recent years attempted to represent their aboriginal identity at the grave.

In addition, the problem of faith arose. Although the Taiwanese aborigines believed in animism, many converted to Christianity after World War II. These converts had crosses as their grave markers, representing their religion. This western practice is also observed by the Han race in Taiwan and by the Christians living in Japan or China. Thus, despite being a western characteristic, the cross is found on graves of Taiwanese aborigines.

This paper examines cemetery setting as an accumulation of history from the viewpoint of material culture. The results showed that the changes in the cemetery scene clearly reveal that the representation of the Taiwanese aborigines' identity has changed because of external policy makers.

Panel P048
Landscape as cultural production by social practices in space and time (CLOSED - 5)