Wang Pinhan, Ph.D. student, Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
As witnesses to the early history of Taiwan, indigenous peoples have a unique significance. But it is very difficult to trace the historical changes undergone by indigenous peoples as their lack of writing systems meant that, for the most part, they had to rely on oral transmission. Thus, written records by the non-indigenous “Other”—Han Chinese and Japanese—are an important source of clues for understanding Taiwanese indigenous peoples.
While it may be true that seeing them through “other people’s eyes” is liable to have a distorting effect, it can at least give the reader a general historical sense of their identity. At the same time, the books themselves recreate the writers’ own encounters with indigenous peoples and give later generations more opportunities to understand them.
Published in 2013, Collected Works of Literature on Taiwan Aborigines was compiled along these lines. The collection covers a range of topics, including “A Record of Indigenous People’s Daily Customs,” “Aborigine–Han Conflicts,” “The Modern Experience of Indigenous Peoples,” and “The Historical Experience of Indigenous Peoples.” The text takes the reader from the Ming dynastic period all the way to the end of the Japanese colonial era, sketching an outline of Taiwan’s aborigines in Chinese and Japanese writings.
Literary and historical materials spanning nearly three and a half centuries – from 1603 to 1945 – have been collected in two volumes. Selections are arranged chronologically; the first volume covers the period from 1603 to 1894, the second from 1895 to 1945. The works are also grouped by literary form: classical and modern poetry, essays, fiction, haiku, waka (like haiku, a type of Japanese poetry), and other forms. Volume two includes writings in both Chinese and Japanese, as well as classical and modern works. In addition, an appendix provides short biographies of 163 writers, and sources the materials for reader reference.
The Catalogue of Literature on the Taiwan Aborigines provides an even more precise understanding of the collection’s compilation, because the Collected Works in fact emerged from the Catalogue’s listings. Since literary value was the primary editorial consideration, selections were drawn mainly from literary anthologies and collections, and authors’ complete collected works – principally from The Complete Book of Taiwan Poetry, The Complete Book of Taiwan Literature, and A Collection of Fiction from the Japanese Colonial Period – as well as periodicals and other compendia, 189 sources in all. Secondarily, articles related to aborigines found in books, newspaper and magazine articles, and other publications have also been listed in the Catalogue. In addition to basic information such as names of authors and works, and dates of publication, other relevant texts that mention aborigines have also been included.
Editing guidelines for the Catalogue were somewhat different from those of the Collection. In addition to dividing its two volumes chronologically, the Catalogue further subdivides the material by language. The first volume includes works from the period of 1603-1894, and Chinese-language materials from the period of 1895-1945; the second volume lists Japanese writings from the period of 1895-1945. Since the aim of the Catalogue is to provide a complete overview of works pertaining to Taiwan’s aboriginal peoples, it also includes songs and rhymes, official documents, and survey reports. The purpose of the Collection, however, is to offer readings of a literary nature; therefore, in addition to form, literary significance and value were also major considerations in the selection process.
Collected Works of Literature on Taiwan Aborigines is one of the few literary collections dealing with Taiwan’s indigenous peoples. Although the Collection cannot include all aborigine-related works from the past three centuries, it has laid a foundation. Simply put, the Collection provides solid basis for further research in the area; at the same time, the Collection is a mirror, reflecting the past, and providing a reference point for present and future questions related to Taiwan’s aboriginal peoples.
|Related Literary Themes：||Aboriginal Literature|