Xinchuan Cultural Group
Luona Village, Nantou, Taiwan
"Being humble is the only way to receive the blessings from the land.”
- Jeff Sih
Luona village set on the hilltop of central Taiwan, overlooking the Jade mountain, the highest mountain in Taiwan, which is also the spiritual home for the Bunun people. Xinchuan Cultural Group formed by the villagers, from their mid twenties to seventies, who are passionate to keep the traditional songs and cultural practices alive, including the Pasibutbut, a prayer for the millet harvest, one of the principle crops for Bunun people. The unique polyphonic harmonies earned recognition in the UNESCO in 1952.
They have performed at countless festivals and events, including the Taiwan National Concert Hall. They're not only keeping the traditions, but also creating it's vision for future generations.
Back in Jul' 2016 in Luona village...
We received an exciting invitation while running the Taiwanese crowdfunding campaign, an open door to Luona village of the Bunun people, the fourth biggest indigenous language group in Taiwan.
Xinchuan Cultural Group gave us the warmest welcome at the community hut, before they started their regular weekly practice. They had all the filming locations in mind, as well as the set of the songs they would happy to perform. All set to go!
Next day morning, we went to the highest point of the village, overlooking the Saviah (Jade mountain) with lush surroundings.
The Pasibutbut was performed with all the male singers facing inwards in a circle, arms intercrossing with each other. As the song progresses, the singers slowly shift their feet and turn the circle in one direction. The song is a prayer for a rich millet harvest, as well as safety, the good health and peace of the tribe, as well as to please their god, “dihanin”.
There are also songs related to hunting, too. A song called Pislahi is important to Bunun people's cultural practice, which sung before the depart of the hunting as well as Malahadaija, a yearly event involving hunting, ceremonies and archery. After hunting, man will show off and count their prey by practicing another song called Malastapang.
It was amazing to see all the song were still being used, and by singing these songs, they are not only keeping the traditions, but also passing down the wisdom and knowledge from the past generations, which core is being harmony with each other and nature.
After our three days stay, we brought out gifts at the end of the filming, with several types of snacks and nut powders. The leader of the group then laid all the packaging on the ground evenly, gave them numbers, then every member could randomly hand pick a piece of paper with number to know which gift to get. He said, "Everyone took part in the filming has a share, including young children, we make it fair for everyone."
Bunun people see collaboration and harmony the important part of their society, this reflects on their singing, cultural practice, farming and ideology.
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