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《TAIPEI TIMES》Lanyu holds first launch ceremony in a decade

People carry a 10m-long hand-carved boat in Dongcing Village on Orchid Island (Lanyu) yesterday.
Photo courtesy of Dongcing Community Development Association

People carry a 10m-long hand-carved boat in Dongcing Village on Orchid Island (Lanyu) yesterday. Photo courtesy of Dongcing Community Development Association

2024/07/11 03:00

By William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with CNA

Tao residents of Dongcing Village (東清) on Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) yesterday began their first boat-launching ceremony in 10 years. It is being held until tomorrow.

The Tao residents, who refer to themselves as Iranmeylek, encouraged people to watch the ceremony, but asked that anyone attending not interfere with the events.

The 10m-long boat took the Iranmeylek two years to build by hand, a local official said.

Fishing is central to Tao communities, and the Tao recognize three fishing seasons: the “rayon” flying fish season in spring, the “teyteyka” season from June to October, and the “amyan” season from November to January.

Given the importance of fishing to their livelihood, boat-making is also central to their culture. Tao boats, called tatala, are painted red and white, and adorned in symbols representing the human body, the sun’s rays and the waves of the sea. The launch ceremony is meant to protect against evils at sea.

The Lanyu Township Office is also holding events to mark the ceremony, and today is to sacrifice pigs at noon, and host singing, dancing and prayers in the evening, it said.

Visitors are welcome to watch the boat-throwing ritual, the Tao women’s hair-tossing dance and other events, Dongcing Community Development Association chairman Chen Wen-shan (陳雯珊) said in a news release.

“These boats, which can be made of 21 to 27 planks of wood depending on their size, have carried the lives of Tao at sea from ancient times to the present,” he said. “They are boats of life that allow the continuation of everything in the Tao community.”

During the three-day ceremony, visitors can interact with the Tao, learn about their lifestyle and buy local handicrafts, he said.

Over the three days, elders lead the community in singing traditional songs and prayer until dawn each day, Chen said.

Those taking professional photographs of the ceremony should apply with the association before doing so, he said.

“In the future, the association would consider other Tao cultural activities that we can share with visitors, to improve understanding of the culture and contribute to its preservation,” he said.

新聞來源:TAIPEI TIMES

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