Weng Chi-an, Ph.D, Graduate Institute of History, National Taiwan University
Following the box office success of Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale (2011) and the momentum created by related research, one might say that no one in Taiwan today is unaware of the 1930 Wushe Incident, in which indigenous tribal leader Mona Rudao led a rebellion against brutal Japanese rule. However, for a long time the difficulty of obtaining historical data and the stubbornness of received ideologies meant that the truth about this event was hidden in the darkest corners of history. For this reason, scholars, writers, and historians have pieced together the stories bit by bit in the form of both specialist and popular texts – Dana Sakura is the finest example of the latter.
The original text of Dana Sakura was written by Deng Xiangyang, a medical doctor with an interest in Seediq history. Deng once ran a medical clinic in the town of Puli in Nantou County, where he met many Seediq. By good fortune, Deng got to know a survivor of the Wushe Incident—Dakis Nawi’s wife, Obing Tado (called Takayama Hatsuko and Gao Caiyun in Japanese and Chinese, respectively). To help Tado find the Japanese doctor who had saved her life many years before, Deng promised the woman that he would make every effort look for the doctor on his regular visits to Japan. From then on, Deng then set to work tracking down historical data and conducting interviews. In 1998 he published Heavy Fog, Thick Clouds: The Aftermath of the Wushe Incident – An Atayal Family’s Story, and in 2000 he brought out Dana Sakura: The Story of the Real Wushe Incident and of Obin Tadao (2000). This book not only presents the original event in all its complexity but also reveals the trials and tribulations of the Seediq people during this time of turmoil from the perspective of Obin Tadao. In 2003, Taiwanese director Wan Ren adapted the book into a twenty-part television drama series called Dana Sakura which was broadcast on public television. In contrast with the book’s intellectual tone, the television series adopts a rather sentimental narrative style in terms of plot construction and framing, leading viewers step by step across space and time into the vanished past.
In 2009, performance artist Hong Shuling adapted the book into the dance drama Seediq Song: Dana Sakura. A combination of music and dance is used to draw out the story of Obin Tadao’s life and the Wushe Incident. Through abstract forms and bodily representation, the dancers use movement to convey the Seediq people’s originally peaceful existence, their oppression under colonial rule, and the endless violence they suffered before and after the Wushe Incident. It is a sad tale, in particular the moving final scene in which the last dancer walks towards the rainbow, as if towards rescue and redemption.
Where Deng Xiangyang’s investigations reveal a deep historical trauma, and Wan Ren’s television series brings out the story’s emotional resonance, the stage adaptation enables the viewer to experience art’s healing power. If the story of Wushe and Obin Tadao continues to be retold and rethought in a variety of forms and texts, truth will continue to have a voice and will not be lost beneath the currents of history.
|Related Literary Themes：||Aboriginal Literature|