The history of Taiwan–2. Aborigines and Hakkas

Posted: 2013 年 10 月 08 日 in The history of Taiwan
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Aborigines and Hakkas

Two distinct groups of aborigines occupied Taiwan at the time of the Chinese arrival. One group lived sedentary agricultural lives on the rich alluvial plains of the center and southwest. The others were savages who roamed the mountains, fought incessantly among themselves, and continues to practice such primitive customs as ritual tatooing and head-hunting right down to the twentieth century.

Although it is not known exactly when the Chinese first began to settle on the “Beautiful Island,” the first mainland immigrants came from an ethnic group called the Hakkas (客家人)—literally “guests” or “strangers.” The Hakkas, a minority group relentlessly persecuted in China since ancient times, were driven from their native home in Honan province about 1,500 years ago and forced to flee south to the Fukien and Kwangtung coasts. There, they successfully engaged in fishing and trading. That brought them to the Pescadores Islands, now know locally as the Peng-Hu and later to Taiwan. By 1,000 A.D., the Hakkas had probably established themselves in the southern part of Taiwan, driving the native aboriginal tribes off the fertile plains and up into the mountains. The Hakkas grew sugar cane, rice and tea and engaged in active trade with the mainland. Today, the Hakkas rank among Taiwan’s most enterprising people.

Other Chinese also set their sights on Taiwan. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), immigrants from Fukien province began to cross the Taiwan Strait in ever-increasing numbers. They pushed the Hakkas further inland and usurped the rich western plains for themselves. Chinese settlers adopted the term ben-di-ren (本地人), which literally means “this-place-person” or “native,” in order to differentiate themselves from both the Hakkas and the aborigines whom they called “strangers.” Even today, the descendants of these early immigrants from Fukien refer to themselves as ben-di-ren, thereby distinguishing themselves from the 1949 influx of mainland refugees whom they call wai-sheng-ren (外省人) or “outer-province-people.”

Still, the only true natives of Taiwan are the aboriginal tribes. Like the native Indians of America, and aborigines of Australia, they have been shunted off to special reservations. Their delegated homes are in the mountains of central and southern Taiwan. The rest of taiwan’s populace has been descended from various groups of mainland Chinese immigrants. Even the Taiwanese dialect is a direct offshoot of Fukienese.


Learn more about Hakkas:

Who are the Hakka Chinese?

Hakka people–Wiki Article

Learn more about aborigines in Taiwan:

An awarded commercial

The traditional clothing of Taiwan’s aborigines

Different  types of aboriginal music in Taiwan

  1. 外二2 鍾歆禔 說道:

    The first video you share is sung in Paiwan.
    I can understand that a little because I am Paiwan.
    We have many kinds of delicious food like “cinavu" and “avai".
    Speaking of the tradition festival, “maleveq" is the most important and grandest.


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