Friday, November 28, 2008

SERIAL 5: Kondo Katsusaburo among Taiwan's Atayal/Sedeq peoples, 1896 to 1930

Kondo ambushed and fighting for his life! Installments 9 & 10 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. 3 & 4. 5 & 6. 7 & 8.) Dr. Barclay is the general editor of the wonderful Gerald Warner Taiwan Image Collection which I urge everyone interested in Taiwan to visit.


Chapter Nine: The Headhunting Problem
(Trans. from Taiwan nichinichi shinpō January 18, 1931)

Since the Aborigines asked Kondō to come fetch the head of Chiri Wadai, the District Commissioner's Office was worried, and tried to stop Kondō from entering the Aborigine territory on the off chance that something might go wrong. Kondō, however, said he was going. [It was decided that] both Sakamoto Noboru and Yoshikawa Tan of the Aborigine Affairs section would go with Kondō. The three men headed for Wushe. The Aborigines there handed over the head without difficulty. However, they angrily asked Kondō, "why did you go to Truku?"

"Aah, so that is why you doubted [me]." Kondō now realized why he had been summoned to come and retrieve the head. He thought he must explain the situation very clearly:

"I went there to search for Captain Fukahori's whereabouts. If nobody could find him, I thought that you would also be in trouble, because you were under suspicion by the Japanese authorities. That's why I went to search."

The Aborigines are easily moved to doubt. On the other hand, they are very quickly persuaded [to understand otherwise], and all suspicions were allayed. Their [good] temper was completely restored. They went so far as to say that in the near future, they would make a "stone burying" pledge.

The "stone burying" pledge is a ceremony that promises a cessation to head-taking, effective when the stone is buried in the ground. The ceremony displays the unshakeable and eternal nature of the pledge, symbolizing that even though the stone itself might decay, the pledge would continue to be honored. When the day for the ceremony arrived, however, they begged to stipulate a three-year expiration date, just as they were about to take the pledge.

"If you stop us from head-hunting forever, we cannot fete our ancestors," they insisted, to avoid making the pledge eternally binding. So, reluctantly and seeing no other way, their request was granted. There were other complications as well. Just as the ceremony was completed, it became known that a Wanda man had gone head-hunting that day, killing a Japanese man at Wentougang on his return home. For this violation of the pledge, Wanda was prohibited from trade. That is to say, Wushe's rather equivocal three-year [pact] was obtained with some difficulty. This all occurred on May 4th, 1899.

From this time until around January, 1901, Kondō reopened his trading post. While operating his business, he also doggedly looked for a trail to Nenggao upstream on the Wanda ravine, from Katsukku village of Wushe. Here there appeared men who wanted to take Kondō's head due to a misunderstanding. The trading post in Wanda village had been closed since 1897. And they were again refused permission to trade because of the [incident during the May 4, 1899] stone-burying ceremony in Wushe. Thus, Wanda village felt unfairly treated. In January of 1901, they held a general council. If we take Kondō's head, they reasoned, another Japanese man will arrive and open a trading post. So Kondō's head became a target. Wanda tried to get Wushe to participate, but from the beginning, Wushe had permission to trade, so they disagreed with the plan. The [Wanda] emissary was sent off, and the [Wushe] headman sent a notice to Kondō immediately. Kondō then reported to the sub-prefect, to consult on how to remedy the situation. The sub-prefect decided to permit trade again, but with conditions attached. The trading post would send a bolt of red Chinese cloth, known as pikke to Wanda. In exchange, Wanda would send fifty pieces of "Aborigine cloth" to the bereaved family of the Taiwanese victim of the head-taking incident, as an apology. Once these requirements were fulfilled, the [Wanda] Aborigines would be granted permission to trade.

The fifty pieces of cloth were at last ready on April 20th [1901]; the Wanda village headman brought them himself. He also reported that he had brought some camphor wood, which was still behind him, in the mountains. He asked to trade the lumber, and Kondō replied that he would have a look. That evening they climbed the mountain behind Puli. As soon as they arrived at the spot where the headman pointed out the waiting lumber, four spears suddenly appeared, coming from all directions. Kondō met his fate as the spears went through him with no care for a particular target. He received wounds on his chest, stomach, and left side; he was hurt badly. Fresh blood gushed out of him in the darkness of these savage hills. Nonetheless, being a son of Japan, Kondō thought he had to strike at least one blow. With desperate effort, he swiped a spear, and the battle between Kondō and four or five Aborigines commenced.

Chapter Ten: Kondō is Ambushed by Enemies
(Trans. from Taiwan nichinichi shinpō January 19, 1931)

As Kondō reconciled himself to die there, he fought for his life with desparation. As his hand responded to the grip of the bamboo spear, he even thought, "this is every man's dream!" And yet, during the skirmish, he heard the chief energetically scolding his excited men to stop. As he was being struck by the [first] multidirectional thrusts, Kondō believed he had been lured out and trapped by the headman. However, it did seem as if the headman had been restraining his men from the beginning. Besides, a second attack, strangely enough, never came. Kondō could not understand what was happening. Meanwhile, his opponents, who had emerged from the darkness, fled back into darkness.

"It was because young, hot-blooded [men] got excited ... please forgive me." The chief apologized as he assisted Kondō. [The headman] carried Kondō into the house of Takada Gigorō, the manager of the trading post, and then fled for fear of the consequences. It was 8:30 in the evening, in a place called Wugonglun. The trading post was located some three kilometers from Puli. Mr. Takada immediately administered first aid and then carried Kondō back to his own home. At the time, Sappo [or Sazo] Chitsukku, Kondo's wife's elder brother (the man who, frightened by the pocketwatch, smashed it), and two or three Wushe braves had come over [to Kondō's place]. They were incensed at the Wanda villagers, and immediately hunted them down and exacted revenge.

The Wanda men included Aui Baan and seven others. They had been lying in wait for Kondō the whole time when he happened to emerge behind the mountain. It seems as if, seizing the opportunity, they meant to take his head.

The following day, on April 21st, 1901, Kondō was carried by means of a wooden door to an Aborigine guest hut in Puli. After hearing about Kondō's travails, his acquaintances became quite concerned. Fortunately, the following day, a new man known as a "public physician" arrived at his post in Puli. They requested that Kondō be examined at once. In addition, Doctor Satō of the Puli Battalion came to help Kondō. There were many wounds on Kondō's body; one around a left rib by the chest, one that scratched his intestine near the stomach, a sideways gash on his thigh, and the biggest of all, a wound in the side of his belly. There were numerous others well. The hemorrhage from the chest wound would not stop, no matter how many times Dr. Satō stitched it up, so he sewed the wound to a bone to stop the bleeding. And yet, the internal bleeding could not be stopped as quickly, and there was nothing that could be done. Kondō's stomach gradually swelled up and the pain became unendurable. Kondō and the men around him considered the situation hopeless. Hence, Kondō left his last testament to his younger brother, Gisaburō. (The younger Kondō had crossed over to Taiwan that year, as a mere boy of sixteen; much later, he would be declared missing.) Soon after, Kondō fell prostrate and sank into a comatose state.

It was 9:00 am! Things remained the same until 3:00 pm, so it was said that people had started preparations for the funeral. After he regained consciousness, Kondō felt all better. His wounds entirely healed within half a month. Though Kondō recovered, the men of Wushe did not so easily overcome their rage. They felt that at least they should attack Wanda village for revenge; they requested a little over a kilogram of gunpowder and matchlock fuses from the sub-prefect. Kondō became alarmed and stopped them.

"Please do not exact any revenge in addition to that exacted by my full recovery. On another occasion, I may have the chance to avenge myself," said Kondō, calming them down. In fact, his words were prescient. At the time, Kondō did not know that he would play a great part in the Japanese government's extension of the Aborigine guardline.


Anonymous said...

A Chinese medical researcher and businessman was executed Friday on charges of spying for Taiwan, his family said.

Ran Chen, who has Austrian citizenship, said her father's execution by gunshot was confirmed at 5 p.m. via the Austrian embassy in Beijing.

"Today, our beloved father, Wo Weihan, was executed," a statement from Chen and her sister Di Chen said. "His life was taken from him before he or our family could say its last goodbyes."

David said...

This is a great series of articles that illuminates so much about this period of Taiwan history. It is also timely with Seediq Bale, a film about the Wushe incident, that should come out in a year or so.