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Traditional Pinuyumayan house successfully renovated, preserved

  • Date:2020-06-13
Traditional Pinuyumayan house successfully renovated, preserved

A ceremony to mark the complete renovation of a Pinuyumayan traditional house — a fruitful result of teamwork between the Taitung-based National Museum of Prehistory (NMP) and the Pinuyumayan (卑南族) people — took place at the NMP's Peinan Cultural Park on June 13. Joined by NMP Director Wang Chang-hua (王長華), the ceremony saw tribal elders from three Pinuyumayan villages perform "maresa'ur," an ancient Pinuyumayan folk song dedicated to the establishment of a traditional residence.

Built in February 2009, the traditional house was named sapa' by tribal elder and chief architect Wang Tian-mu (王天木) in the hope that it would fend off dangers for its residents like the sapa', a thorny tree called Pandanus Tectorius. The house is flanked by two buildings — one for worshipping ancestor spirits, and the other for holding millet rites. Through seasonal maintenance and traditional rituals performed at the house, Pinuyumayan family lives are enriched and clan members brought closer.

Comparing the preservation of indigenous languages, craftsmanship, and folk songs to a race against time, NMP cooperated with the village of Pinaski (下賓朗部落) to establish a Pinuyumayan traditional home with natural materials sourced from the Taitung-based Peinan park as early as 11 years ago.

However, the house, built with traditional Pinuyumayan techniques, has decayed with time. Only the main pillar of the residence remains intact, raising concerns about the future preservation of the house. The historic building skills, together with tribal elders who possess the knowledge of these traditional construction approaches, have gradually begun to fade.

Through a partnership between two generations of Pinuyumayan people and NMP, the traditional home renovation was made possible. After months-long work, the traditional house has now been transformed into an interactive space of cultural heritage practices.

To perpetuate ancient wisdom and beliefs embedded in Pinuyumayan architectural culture, NMP cooperated with local cultural and historic societies to document building materials used by the indigenous community and Pinuyumayan rituals practiced at each stage of the restoration.

The renovation process, including demolition, site selection, and material collection, is akin to deconstructing and reconstructing the past, which fully demonstrate the tribe's solid knowledge of their surrounding natural ecology and their impeccable craftsmanship that gave birth to a unique Pinuyumayan architectural culture.

NMP Director Wang said it is a great honor to work hand-in-hand with the Pinuyumayan tribe and to contribute to Taitung's indigenous community. Over the past ten years, she said, NMP has strove to bring memories carried by this land to life again. The museum has not only cast light on prehistoric culture, but also revivified traditional ways of life, architecture, and the ecological environment that was intertwined with indigenous lives, the director went on.

The renovation project is part of NMP's comprehensive efforts to enlighten the public about indigenous cultures. The museum goes on to showcase traditional homes and youth assembly buildings known as palakuwan, where teenage Pinuyumayan boys receive strict training.

In addition, the museum and tribe members are brought together by Peinan park through events like Pinuyumayan music concerts, craftsmanship residency programs, and cooperative marketing campaigns that promote products sourced from the indigenous community.

While guided tours to the newly renovated house are now available, visitors will have a chance to take closer look at another traditional home, this time from a prehistoric era, in August.