Thursday, January 01, 2009

SERIAL 15: Kondo Katsusaburo among Taiwan's Atayal/Sedeq peoples, 1896 to 1930

Kondo muses on the repercussions of his marriage! 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-Two: Kondō Navigates the Shoals of Frontier Diplomacy
(Trans. from Taiwan nichinichi shinpō February 3, 1931)

Kondō told them that he did not want to live deep within Wushe's interior, but rather in Kirigaseki, where he would be closer to [Hōgō and Mahebo]. Kondō was testing the waters. Even if the prefect said that he would sell-off the land, the Aborigines did not even understand the concept of unregistered land and might think that it was their land, under Aborigine ownership. Therefore, Kondō was afraid that a misunderstanding could easily arise concerning this very important matter. The Aborigines replied that Kirigaseki would be suitable. The land was owned by a Palan villager; they agreed to ask [the owner] to transfer the land to Kondō. After that, they would build a house for Kondō, once the land was given over.

The Aborigines took such good care of Kondō because they were happy to have him arrive in their village, which enabled them to make war, an activity they relished. Kondō went to Nantou and met the prefect. He reported on the results of his talks with the Aborigines. Kondō thereupon received official orders to build a guardline to Tatsutaka. In the course of shuttling to and from the villages, Kondō confirmed that the Kirigaseki land was owned by Biho Nasui and Waris Nokan of Palan village. It was communicated to Kondō that Biho Nasui wanted an ox and that Waris Nokan wanted seventy items (what kind of items did not matter to him, as long as they were seventy) for the land. However, the problem of Kondō's wife still remained. His wife at the time, Iwan Robau, was from Palan village, which had lost its influence. Aborigine women who had once been married in the plains were not allowed back in their villages, so the headmen insisted that Kondō divorce Iwan and then remarry.

The issues surrounding Aborigine women (banpu) were intricately bound up with Aborigine affairs in general; whether or not trust and confidence could be established often depended upon this matter. If [a marriage between a foreigner and an Aborigine woman] turned out badly, Aborigines would, for the sake of appearances, shrug it off and say it was merely a "women's matter." However, the concealment of such powerful [resentment] beneath the surface could bring about fearful repercussions. Thus, on the matter of his Aborigine wife, Kondō had to defer to the Aborigines. That day, Kondō (of course without telling Iwan Robau) went to his wife's native Palan village with the headmen to announce his divorce by killing a pig. He brought the pig's head and legs to Palan's chief and distributed the leftovers to relatives. Kondō also made a gift of about 10 gallons of saké to each.

Kondō justified the divorce by considering himself, henceforth, an adopted son of an Aborigine village by order of the government general. But such a matter could not be kept concealed from his wife in Puli, Iwan Robau. One of her relatives rushed to her and asked if she knew about the divorce. She emphatically replied that she did not. And so it was.

Nonetheless, Iwan Robau knew Kondō's true intentions. She figured that this was for the sake of the nation and harbored no sense of unfair treatment. When Kondō returned home a few days later, she laughingly told him to go quickly and become a son-in-law, lacing her comments with good humor. It appeared that instead of leaving, Kondō had been chased out of the house. Of course, even without Kondō present, Iwan Robau's livelihood would be provided for [by the Japanese].

Soon after, Kondō's wedding plans moved along. It was decided that he would wed a younger sister of Aui Nukan of Hōgō and that his brother, Gisaburō, would wed a younger sister of Mona Ludao. Gisaburō and a younger sister of Mona Ludao! This bizarre coupling, which to this day evinces much discussion, was forged at this time. For four months since August, Kondō had been involved in such preparations. During this period, he was summoned to Taibei by the Government General. He explained that there was no other peaceful way to extend the guardline except for Kondō himself to enter Wushe and generally direct its completion. The Government General's Aborigine Affairs Section asked if they should throw a big celebration for Kondō's marriage into Wushe. Thus, they provided Kondō with six head of oxen and 20 oil cans of saké. Here Kondō very publicly assumed the mantle of a groom-to-be.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would love to know how they travelled though the mountains carrying dozens of gallons of sake. A mule train?

scott in tainan