Sunday, December 28, 2008

SERIAL 14: Kondo Katsusaburo among Taiwan's Atayal/Sedeq peoples, 1896 to 1930

Kondo marries another aboriginal woman to gain the trust of her people! 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 Twenty-One: Kondō’s Filial Piety

(Trans. from Taiwan nichinichi shinpō February 2, 1931)

One day in August of 1908, [Police Inspector] Ōtsu Rinpei, Nantou sub-prefect Mr. Nose, and police officer Captain Ikeda came to Puli and summoned Kondō.

Thanks to you, the crossing was a success. As a safeguard against the Teuda, Truku, and Xakut, we have decided that it is necessary to stretch a guardline from Palan to Sakura-ga-mine. This line will pass through the length of Wushe country, which will probably cause quite a ruckus. Therefore, we would like to ask your assistance once again.

Kondō himself had been thinking of this guardline's necessity for quite some time, and said as much. But unless this very difficult task was carried out with delicacy, it would be hard to avoid a disturbance. In order to make the plan work, Kondō would have to put his life at risk once again. Kondō became visibly flummoxed, in the presence of the officials. He was honored to be called upon, but as recounted above, he had just resolved to make his filial obligations a priority. Though Kondō felt no compunction about devoting himself to the nation, he could not vanquish his anxious thoughts concerning the fate of his family, should something happen to him. So Kondō fervently pleaded to decline this order. He frankly expressed his sentiments to these three men and asked that they send his younger brother instead. They replied that Gisaburō was too young; moreover, he was unsuitable because he held an official post. In the final analysis, only Kondō Katsusaburō was really fit for this task. Acknowledging Kondō's worries about the aftermath of a possible mishap, the officials assuaged Kondō by promising to do all they could to make arrangements [to provide for his family]. They urged Kondō to change his mind and accept the request.

After a long period of obstinate wrangling, Kondō finally gave up in the face of such insistence. The three officials told Kondō that there was a place called Kirigaseki on the way to Wushe from Puli. They said they would sell-off about 30 hectares to Kondō for his family. Still, at that moment, Kondō remained hesitant for some reason. Nevertheless, he could not shake them off, because so much had already been offered and requested. After thinking about it for a while, he gave his reply and set off that day, parting with the officials. Kondō consulted with his younger brother and father. They both said that since so much had already been offered and requested, there was no turning back. So Kondō followed their advice...

Kondō had now backed himself into a corner. Damnable Kirigaseki! From here on in, that place cursed the brothers Kondō. Perhaps Kondō balked at the above mentioned orders because he had premonition of his fate. On October 1st, [1908], Kondō traveled to Wushe to look into conditions among the Aborigines. He gathered the headmen together for a parley. Kondō begin laying out his pretext [for bringing the guardline through Wushe] by telling them that the Government General was bent on revenge for Captain Fukahori's demise. Such revenge would be meted out against Teuda and Truku. These two tribes must be subdued, stressed Kondō, as he asked them to build a guardline through Wushe to Tatsutaka to show their support for the Government General.

It goes without saying that Teuda and Truku were Wushe's enemies. Mona Ludao of Mahebo and Aui Nukan of Hōgō were enthusiastic from the start. They asked Kondō which side he would take. Kondō flatly stated that he was with Wushe, as a matter of course. Mona and Aui then apprised Kondō that he would have to enter their villages if he would join with Wushe. Kondō replied that he would do so if that were the case. However, Kondō stipulated, if Wushe were not united behind the plan of exacting revenge, he could not enter their villages. The headmen answered back that they would find, through consultation, a home and a wife for Kondō [among the villages of Wushe].

Kondō expected something like this to occur. He thought it best to enter Wushe and arrange for the Aborigines to construct the guardline themselves. To accomplish this goal, he knew that he would have to marry an Aborigine woman in Wushe to gain their complete trust. Besides, his current wife [Iwan Robau] was from Palan village, which was no longer a force to be reckoned with. Therefore, he had already resigned himself to becoming a son-in-law of Hōgō or Mahebo in order to control the Aborigines of Wushe and manage the construction of a guard-line. These were the two most powerful villages in Wushe at the time.

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