Friday, August 14, 2015

1950s 1 min film from missionary group on aborigines

1950s Missionary film on bring Christianity to the aborigines
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11 comments:

solidarity.tw said...

The dance footage is great. The commentary is lol. As an American I now have an urge to introduce my own countrymen as headhunters too.

Brian Castle said...

Americans were headhunters? When was that? Scalp hunters, yes, but headhunters? Given that the film was made in the 1950s it seems quite likely that there were people they visited who were old enough to have participated in headhunting, so describing them as "former headhunters" is very reasonable.

The line about them performing the dance because there were honored by the visit was hard to swallow. And the description of the dance was condescending in tone. I don't get what was LOL though.

One thing I wonder about is the short skirts of the first set of dancers. In all the videos I've seen of female Taiwanese aborigine dancers the dresses have always been long. Did they used to wear them and give them up? Or were they put on to entertain foreigners? Anyone know?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Americans are headhunters. As exemplified by Hollywood films: Whenever there's a foreign director or talent that shows some promise, they headhunt him/her, to make Hollywood films.

As a Taiwanese who grew up in Taiwan and whose knowledge of Taiwanese aboriginals was for a long time woefully limited to the story of Wu Feng and several visits to the "Nine Tribes Cultural Village," I too find the short skirts suspicious, especially because of those little ROC flags they were waving. It makes me wonder how much of the aboriginal traditions we know are actually reinventions; but it's quite moot since I don't even know how much of my Chineseness and my Taiwaneseness are actually reinventions, as a native speaker of an artificial language that only one person could speak before 1923, which is probably why I don't have much linguistic competences with my native tongues.

Anonymous said...

Here is another interesting aboriginal video I came across. It shows how they traded goods to the Japanese for pots/pans/blankets/toys. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5inWiiuWsU

More aboriginal pics can be found at taipics.com

Brian Castle said...

"as a native speaker of an artificial language that only one person could speak before 1923" What??

Brian Castle said...

I didn't notice the flags are ROC. I guess seeing the flags were part of aboriginal traditional dance culture confirms that Taiwan has always been part of the ROC even before the ROC existed. :D

Anonymous said...

Gwoyeu, created on an amalgam of dialects including Peking Mandarin; only Yuen Ren Chao the linguist could speak it before 1923. Only Taiwanese speak it now, but Taiwanese people still laugh at Tawianese Gwoyeu as a funny accent. Chinese speak Putonhua instead, which is based on Gwoyeu, but sets Northen dialects and Bejing accent as the standard instead.

Anonymous said...

From the date it has to be Occidental / Interlingue. I too would like to know more about its speech community in Taiwan.

Brian Castle said...

I thought Gwoyeu and Putonhua were different accents or regional variations of the same Mandarin language. I had no idea one of them was an artificial construct (but I would still hesitate to call them separate "languages" since they are mutually intelligible). I'll have to look up that guy and see what he did. Thanks for the information.

Anonymous said...

I read it in the OP-ED of Liberty Times today that, according to James W. Davidson in "The Island of Formosa: Past and Present", the Han people used to eat the aboriginals as health supplements (not the other way around; the aboriginals were not cannibals, just headhunters.)
Naturally, I tried to look up the book. At first I found that Google Books has it for free, but it wouldn't sell the free e-book to me. After I updated my payment information, since I moved back from USA to Taiwan, Google Books says nope, they don't have that book. I suddenly feel ... maybe claustrophobic is the word.
Anyway, eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek.

Anonymous said...

After emailing Google about the ebook, they reevaluated the copyright and made it available (it was available elsewhere but it was easier to read on Google for me)
Davidson described Chinese as eating aboriginal meat for courage and strength, which strikes me as strange since that's what many cannibals are described as doing by ethnographers. Another Oped in LTN said that they ate them to smell like them to ghosts, which sounds more likely.