Wednesday, December 17, 2008

SERIAL 10: Kondo Katsusaburo among Taiwan's Atayal/Sedeq peoples, 1896 to 1930

Enjoy the latest installment of Dr. Paul Barclay's translation of Kondo Katsusaburo's experiences up to and during the 1930 Wushe revolt, which were serialized in the local Taiwan Japanese-language papers in the early 1930s. Kondo married into an aboriginal family and traveled extensively in aboriginal territory. (For introduction to Kondo and his era, see Installments 1 & 2. Links to other installments are on the bottom of the right-hand sidebar). Dr. Barclay is the general editor of the wonderful Gerald Warner Taiwan Image Collection which I urge everyone interested in Taiwan to visit.


Chapter Sixteen: Momotarō in Taiwan

(Trans. from Taiwan nichinichi shinpō January 27, 1931).

This was no movie set. In 1907, this was a ferocious battle in the untamed Aborigine highlands. So what happened in the skirmish between a man named Kondō and the four Aborigines? Kondō stared at the four of them, who were: Sappo Bakkuru, Iyon Bawan, and Watan Assa of Katsukku village and Aui Sama of Palan village. They were all young men whom Kondō knew well. "Kondō-san, we cannot speak to you if you keep making that terrifying expression," said the one who spoke first. "Please withdraw that spear. Why are you so angry?" said the second to talk. [Kondō replied,] "So you say, but you did come here to kill me, didn't you?" "That's nonsense; we came to accompany you."

Everything had been turned on its head. According to these [four], the seventeen who left Katsukku [with Kondō] discussed matters among themselves. The Katsukku men, who were relatives of Kondō, said that they could not abandon him. If they did, they could not face their fellow villagers. Thus, it was decided that the aforementioned four Aborigines would follow Kondō. The situation had completely transformed itself to an advantageous one for Kondō, who was grateful for this [turn of events].

"Well, if that is the case, I needn't have acted as I did."

"We were truly shocked. We've never seen such an expression on your face before." They also calmed down. The five of them sat down on some rocks and became as thick as thieves, like Momotarō, who went to Onigashima with his followers to conquer [a monster]. Soon after, they began to nag Kondō about their compensation for going to Hualien Harbor, revealing their rustic lack of sophistication. Wasn't this something to remind one of Momotarō's Kibidango? [Momotarō gave each of his follower's sweets as a reward]. Three of them requested an ox; the other asked for a gun. At the same time, revealing their carefree approach to life, they had left their supplies back at the watershed. By the time they went to fetch them and return, night had fallen. So they ended up camping near a pond, most likely the one called Tadotsu.

On the following day, the 24th, the morning brought heavy ground-hugging fog and very low visibility. Expecting it to clear up, they tried to move on. However, they were on an unknown road, and they could not tell whether to go right or left. Unfortunately, they had forgot to bring a magnetic compass, so there was nothing they could do. At this point, Kondō could think of nothing but praying to heaven. He stood his banner up in the ground and then followed the path in the direction it toppled. The fog was malevolent, and would not lift for the whole day. They could not proceed farther and had to stay around a pond called Sumegan. On the 25th, the fog cleared completely. Compared to the previous day, the troupe felt much better, and left the vicinity of the pond early in the morning, maintaining a hurried pace. Although they worried that they had lost their way because of the fog, there was nothing left to do but go forward.

Despite the fact that they faced cliffs, valleys, rivers, and sharp [surfaces] traversed only with difficultly, Kondō could not contemplate any cessation of forward progress on this roadless path. It was as if he were being chased. Kondō said,

"There is no other way to walk in such completely wild mountains. Of course, I could do this because I was young. But [then again], climbing is simply a matter of one's vigor." On the afternoon of the 29th, the troupe managed to avoid getting lost and reached their goal. They came to place which seemed to be right above the crags and cave openings where Kondō had become stymied the previous January. They had arrived at the Chiyakan ravine in Hualien.

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