Day 5– Wutai

#KantaTaiwan Day 5, journal Saturday 26 May on the southern hills of Taiwan, Wutai

  1. Conversations with Moo Moo (Grandfather in Rukai) Explaining the important significance of the head dress.
  2. The hand that caught the eagle, Palipilipi, a great hunter, and now elder of the community. Wealth of knowledge and also the humble farmer. Previously rukai language teacher, we've seen him watching athletics on TV numerous times. It must be the challenge & achievement he misses.
  3. The daily walk through the village, but this time full load with both cameras. I'm carrying the #8intrepid mobile studio kit.
  4. Walkthrough village is never just a walk. But many stopovers to find out the daily events and happenings. Here at Aunts place, given bunch of laicis and other, before being sent on our way with sometimes errands and messages to pass on. 
  5. Packed both cameras to head down Shensan, next village where the wedding is held. Between 3 of us, about 25kg load, walking the path.
  6. Native Library, beside the town hall and other gov facilities, amazed at gov effort, and to a certain degree, the community, having their own autonomy over themselves. 
  7. It's literally mountains rising from the ground. Majestic views of the valley and rolling hills, glorious skies. These southern hills seems remote, but are still accessible. 
  8. We were given ceremonial vest, in order to get access to the wedding grounds.
  9. Wedding- engagement ceremony, the village has turned out in their best. I really love their hand weaved back packs.
  10. Heard there were 4 different entourage that has come today, bearing gifts, the bride comes from the noble family, here a live 'Babui' (wild boar/ pig) on offer. 
  11. Pack hall, the ceremonies started at 630 am and ends at 5pm with a 2 hour communal dance ritual (ends early because the mosquitoes come out at 6)
  12. Bride's mother, the bride and her 2 sisters (pictured here) get carried on a 'litter' (known in Chinese as kiao) to the engagement venue through the village.
  13. Modern day steed, as the entourage make its way through the village, outriders clear the way for the procession.
  14. Communal Dance Ritual where the entire guests participate in a circular, hand-joined dance ritual, it goes on for two hours. 
  15. Setup kamra #1interchange at the end of their ceremonies, in order not to interfere with their rituals. Had an hour window to make portraits of selected guests.
  16. Important moment in the process, to let the sitter witness their own image appear, onto a physical form of a print.
  17. Spent the evening with Peresang, dinner was paid by her brother, and a lengthy portrait session. Coincidences with Peresang has turned out to be more than a blessing, we can't be more thankful for the wealth of knowledge and inspiration she has shared with us.

The community, social structure, and relationships, although simplistically projected as a tribe, but in its entirety, very complex, between generations, assimilations & associations, with duality personalities (sometimes multiple) facing the challenges of balancing identities #KantaPortraits #BeyondBorders #EdgesofMalaysia

1. Conversations with Moo Moo

2. Palipilipi, a great hunter

3. daily walk village

4. stopovers

5. Packed both cameras

6. Native Library

7. Majestic views

8. ceremonial vest

9. Wedding- engagement ceremony

10. 'Babui' (wild boar/ pig) on offer

11. Pack hall

12. Bride's entourage

13. Modern day steed

14. Communal Dance Ritual

15. Setup kamra #1interchange

16. witness their own image

17. evening with Peresang


Day 4– Wutai

#KantaTaiwan Day 4, journal, Friday 25 May on the southern hills of Taiwan, Wutai

  1. Part of the village is in intensive mode, it's the morning before the wedding and preparations and gifts distribution is in order, 8 pigs in total, headresses and the special miller wrap
  2. Elder ladies making the headdresses for the ceremony
  3. 80 portions, pork distributed among the extended family and community in this groom's village, yesterday it was for bride's village
  4. making of the millet wrap
  5. millet wrap
  6. Rubu, my first traditional #rukai meal of rice, corn and water spinach in a porridge like broth
  7. Attempted daytime portrait sessions with grandma #8intrepid #intrepidcamera
  8. reviewing the prints
  9. Instant portraits of @legeay731216 in his grandfather's hall
  10. Given a lesson in making natural jelly, using the inner spirit to bring out the taste. Wild Yee collected from a mountain lake makes the best tasting jelly I've tasted.
  11. Spent the late afternoon walking to professor's house for a portrait, but he wasn't in. Only saw 1 other person in the village when I was walking back, setup at the square and made a portrait of visiting couple. Coffee champion aunt stall in the background.
  12. Language class with Moo Moo (grandfather) who was previously a rukai language teacher in the community too. A very well respected elder, with a wealth of memories and stories from the past. 
  13. Calinga / Telinga / Ear, we share many rudimentary words. #austronesian origins of Malaysia and alot of tribes in East Malaysia. Where we are from.
  14. Cultural Mapping, is all documented, in oral traditions through songs, stories now dotted on the map as reference points. This publication from early 2000, hasn't had a public release yet, but holds so much important notes and references for their village and tribe. Needs a champion to pull it through.

The close knit of the community, roles and function, plays such important roles in keeping these cultures and structure alive. Rituals and practices might change, but what holds a village together is by working together, eating together, respecting each other. And it starts from the smallest nucleus of the family. #KantaPortraits #BeyondBorders #EdgesofMalaysia

1. wedding and preparations

2. making the headdresses

3. pork distributed

4. making of millet wrap

5. millet wrap

6. traditional #rukai meal

7. daytime portrait sessions

8. reviewing prints

9. Instant portraits

10. making natural jelly

11. setup at the square

12. Language class

13. Calinga / Telinga / Ear

14. Cultural Mapping


Day 3– Wutai

#KantaTaiwan Day 3, journal, Thursday 24 May on the southern hills of Taiwan, Wutai

  1. Morning breakfast & market truck. It's a small village, the market is on wheels to serve the scattered villages in the hills
  2. Market on wheels, with a song on the loudspeaker
  3. Revisit museum, further conversations, elementary school visit, rukai language class
  4. Ay Ge Le meetup, contemporary artist, returning youth, one of his first artwork
  5. Legeay ancestral home & stories 
  6. That is where our ancestors first settled, the top, middle and bottom village, stories of beginnings
  7. Legeay, walking tall, big heart for a big responsibility
  8. Portrait session & demonstration, Luc, photo session at museum, collaboration opportunity
  9. Most touching moment, legeay presents his portrait in a frame and asked for an autograph! Thing is, he had to head to Pingtung, down the mountain about hour ride one way to get it from yesterday! Really honoured! 
  10. Rukai Culture Museum, most important resource centre and caretaker of artifacts, cultures and memories, although it lives in the people who run the space, much reverence for the noble work Peresang Chiu Ying Sung and the team are doing, Oral language & Living Cultures 
  11. Head to the fields, portrait of the native farmer, activist and returning youth too, also happens to be the rukai language teacher at school
  12. Lavakaw, I must have seen his talk at a rally, Native occupy at MRT station last year. 
  13. Rukai scholar visit, guru of the mountains, visit and conversations

Like many native communities I have had the chance to visit, the generation gap widens and cultural inheritance changes context, for instance learning native language through national first language, returning youths play a big role in continuing the legacies of these fragile autonomous communities, finding new relevance between preserving the tradition and regenerating the culture and their identities #KantaPortraits #BeyondBorders #EdgesofMalaysia

1. Morning breakfast
2. Market on wheels

3. rukai language class

4. Legeay, Contemporary Artist

5. Legeay ancestral home

6. stories of beginnings

7. Legeay, walking tall

8. Portrait session & demonstration, Luc

9. portrait frame

10. important resource centre

11. portrait, native farmer

12. Lavakaw, activist and returning youth

13. Rukai scholar visit


Day 2– Wutai

#KantaTaiwan Day 2 Journal— Wednesday 23. on the southern hills of Taiwan, Wutai

  1. Casual Interview with grandfather (grand uncle) and a morning photo session. *Interview with Uncle on #rukaitribe names.
  2. Showing Grandfather & grandmother portraits of natives from Malaysia
  3. Make connection with school, to seek permission to give a class in photography. Supervisor was on leave. @renhi0.3 recording sound samples.
  4. Visit to rukai cultural museum, curator, Peresang, in a traditional rukai home, the significance and building methods, culture. She will be going to Taipei to visit KANTA exhibit.
  5. Rukai Culture Museum, exhibits
  6. Hitch ride on school bus to next village, thanks big sister Anne.
  7. Meetup with uncle, and photographer brother (cousin), demonstration with camera.
  8. Stories of mountain pass of ancestors who crossed over to taitung, settlement of rukai there.
  9. Meet village head, Tamu, (story of how rukai first settled on these mountains were linked to their dogs), get invited to wedding on Saturday, and got permission to setup camera.
  10. Walkthrough village with newly made portrait.
  11. Visit hall & field where the wedding will take place *correction; engagement. There are 3 separate events in the wedding, all happening weeks inbetween.
  12. Aunt at the corner we meet everyday, promised to make a portrait of her but did not have the chance to. So sorry, will be back july and dedicate a day to you.
  13. Night conversations with Grandmother (grandaunt, married to the late, legend of wutai). *Photo session with first uncle and grandfather, night. With 8x10 camera #8intrepid #intrepidcamera.

Not many portrait session today, but meeting and having a deeper understanding of the community here. Most beautiful people, with so much in common. We share so many common words, and culture. Mata, Telinga, Bibir, Lidah, Siku, Lima, enam, sepuluh, Aku, are just some of the most common and fundamental words we share. #austronesian #KantaPortraits #BeyondBorders #EdgesofMalaysia

1. Casual Interview with grandfather
2. Showing portraits from Malaysia
3. school, recording sound samples.
4. Visit rukai cultural museum
5. Rukai Culture Museum exhibits
6. Hitch ride on school bus
7. Meetup with uncle family
8. Stories of mountain pass
9. Meet village head, Tamu
10. Walkthrough village
11. Visit hall & field, wedding
12. Aunt at the corner
13. Night conversations with Grandmother