Saturday, December 13, 2008

SERIAL 9: 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 Fifteen: Kondō Recruits a Sedeq Retinue
(Trans. from Taiwan nichinichi shinpō January 26, 1931).

The Wushe Aborigines were afraid of going to Hualien. To allay their anxiety they planned on bringing a banpu, but she had an infant [to take care of]. The [Japanese officials and Kondō's kin] all had sent Kondō off into the Aborigine territory in such grand style. He had made it this far. Now he realized that the Aborigines were completely unreliable. Kondō was between a rock and a hard place; he was becoming exhausted and impatient. And yet, he had hoped to go on this mission for ten whole years. How could he just give up now! Kondō learned for himself that he had been over-reliant on the Aborigines. Now Kondō was alone. Realizing this situation, he was emphatically resolved to complete the mission by himself.

A relation of one of Kondō's guides lived in Katsukku. One day Kondō went there and invited the young men to go head-hunting in Taroko. They loved head-hunting, so were overjoyed. Kondō gathered together seventeen men from various villages. This is how Kondō tricked the group. They bravely departed from Katsukku on 20 September 1907. Heading towards South Nenggao, they spent the nights of the 21st and 22nd in the mountains. They reached the watershed at Nenggao on the 23rd. From here, each step would bring him closer to that which he had been longing for, Hualien Harbor. Then he firmly and frankly faced the Aborigines and said,

To be honest, I did not come here to hunt heads. As you know, I have been ordered by General Sakuma to find a way to Hualien Harbor. Nonetheless, I could not get you to leave, no matter how long I waited. If I do not make it to Hualien Harbor this time out, I will not be able to return to Puli alive.

Perched on the watershed atop Nenggao! Bright autumn clouds in the mountains!

Watching the clouds float about so freely, Kondō lost all sense of fear.

If I am to die, I prefer to die by getting even one step closer in the direction of Hualien. Therefore, I am willing to go forward alone. You may go headhunting or do whatever you please and then return home. It is possible that I might fall to my death in a valley or be eaten by animals. Should that befall me, please tell Mona Ludao and Aui Nukan that they will have to account for themselves before the General!

The Aborigines crouched in silence, as if being intimidated by their own headmen, uttering not a single word. As soon as he finished his oration, Kondō picked up his bag and started running. He did not look back at ... for there was no need to do so. That thing we call singleness of heart and mind is a dread thing to behold. The decision was made, the difficulty dissolved. Kondō rushed headlong into lands that looked untraversed by human steps, into the virgin lands of the high-mountain wilderness. As he advanced about two and a half miles [away from the Katsukku men,] their roaring voices could be heard echoing. The voices seemed to chase him. "Oi! Oi!" How strongly their voices resounded and reverberated among the mountains. Kondō knew their nature; if they were in a violent temper, he would be killed. Well, Kondō mused, I brought my "Captain Fukahori" banner, not to mention a spear and two amulets from Narita and Ise. These were for fighting against animals, but now they will be used for self-defense [against men]. Looking for a place from which to face the onslaught, he took up his position. Then he held out his spear as if to say, "I'm ready!" and braced himself.

After a time, the Aborigines came as expected—there were four of them. The look on Kondō's face was terrible; he was prepared to take on this many and he thought he could defeat them. The Aborigines had grown accustomed to Kondō's customarily gentle expression. As they approached, they were astonished at what they saw. Kondō had leveled his spear, leaving no unguarded openings [to aim at]. The Aborigines were alarmed and left speechless. It was around 4:00 p.m. when the sunlight began to dim in the mountains. The valleys were darkening, and so were the peaks. The forlorn silence of the mountains! As night fell on the mountains, covering them in a dappled purple, Kondō felt a sense poignancy beyond imagination.

No comments: