Folk Stories of Taiwan
"Folk Stories of Taiwan" is part of the Taiwanese Tradition
Series presented by the Culture Committee, Houston Taiwanese School of
Languages and Culture. It explores some of Taiwanese folk tales, parables
and mythologies, and introduces some of Taiwan's geographic landmarks and
historical heroes as well. Through them, you may find a moral or religious
lesson or the values underlying the culture. Hopefully, this will help you
understand the difference between American and Taiwanese cultures.
What is special about the stories in this book is that most of the
articles were translated or edited by second-generation Taiwanese
Americans. They are attending high school, college or graduate school, and
some of them have attended this Taiwanese School.
The Legend of Sun-Moon Lake
- This myth originates from the Shao tribe, living in Central Taiwan.
The "holding ball dance" was originally a popular game among
the southern aborigines. The story tells of the sacrifices of a young
couple in search of the sun and the moon to save people's lives.
The Legend of Muddy River
- Chou Shui Hsi is the largest river in Taiwan. It originates from Mt.
Chi-Lai and passes through several big pristine forests. Soil and
sediment is carried downstream from the mountains, making the river
muddy, as the name implies.
The Lake of the Sisters and the Three Brothers
- On the famous Mount Ali (Alishan), the Lake of the Sisters and Three
brothers accompany eachother, making for a harmonious natural scenery.
Read this aboriginal legend to find out how this came about.
Ban Pin Shan
- Ban Pin Shan means "Half-faced mountain". It is named as
its shape implies. This story tells about the virtue of integrity and
the values of kindness and selflessness.
The Aboriginal Hero
- The Atayal tribe suffered for many years under the harsh rule of the
Japanese. Eventually, this tribe revolted and fought for their freedom.
many lives were lost. This famous "Wu-She" incident inspired
many Taiwanese to stand up against Japanese rule.
The Tigress Witch (Hoko Po)
- Do you believe in the strange ability of animals to change themselves
into humans ? Remember the story of the three little pigs ? Read this
story about a smart little Taiwanese girl named A-kim, and her encounter
with the Tigress Witch.
Little Frog in the Well
- Many people are only aware of the things they see and hear in their
own small world. They often ignore what's going on outside of their
daily lives. This can be bad, as the small frog in this story learned.
Background on Taiwan
Taiwan is located between the Philippines and Japan, 100 miles off the
coast of China. It is roughly the size of the Netherlands and the state of
West Virginia, USA. A number of smaller, nearby islands have had historic
association with Taiwan, including the Pescadores, Green Island, Orchid
Island, and Shiao LiuChiu.
About 15% of Taiwan's residents are refugees from the mainland who came
over with the KMT in 1945-1949 and their Taiwanborn descendants. The rest
of the population are called 'native Taiwanese', who are the descendants
of the settlers who arrived 350 or more years ago who intermarried with
the Malay-Polynesian indigenous population. About 70% are 'Minnan' and
speak the 'Hoklo' language. Another 12-15% are descended from Hakka
immigrants and speak the 'Hakka' language. Approximately 1.8 percent of
the people are Indigenous people of Malay-Polynesian descent; there are
approximately ten tribes with distinct languages and cultures.
Throughout 400 years of history, Taiwan has been occupied by the Dutch,
Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese. Although Chinese culture has exerted a
considerable influence on local traditions, Japanese and Western culture
have as well. There are also some uniquely Taiwanese aspects of local
culture, such as opera, folk music, literature and film.
Those interested in Taiwanese
traditional puppet theatre and who have "Big-5"
character-capability, can visit the site of the Academia Sinica.
© Houston Taiwanese School of Languages and Culture, 1995
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