The origins of the Atayal can be classified into three systems:
1. They deeply believe that they were born from stones.
2. They deeply believe that they were born from the big stones in Dabajian Mountain.
3. They deeply believe that they were born from the old trucks of the Stone Mountain in the upper area of Wangdabei Creek.
In the Atayal’s world, there are two distinctive tribal concepts.
1. Concept of Gaga
Special cultural feature include the gaga ancestral instruction system, a set of shared taboos and beliefs unique to the Atayal. When one violates gaga, indicating the violation of taboos will result in the punishment from the spirits. Those who follow gaga hold religious rituals and share the labor and consequences together.
2. Religious Belief of Rutux
Rutux is a supernatural spiritual belief. Once one offends gaga, he or she will get punishment from rutux. Those who are scared by rutux will result in illness. When the Atayal eat or drink outside, they sprinkle some food on the ground for rutux.
Among thirteen indigenous peoples, only Atayal, Taroko, and Saisiyat practice facial tattooing. The Atayal typifies in the wide V shape line in their both cheeks. Facial tattooing for men is a totem for adulthood and courage. It is a symbol of mastering in embroidery for women. No one will court any woman who doesn’t know how to do embroidery or have no facial tattooing. Those women who survive are in their 70s and 80s.
1. Art of Facial Tattooing
Apart from beauty and evil avoidance, it represents mastering in embroidery for women and courage for men, and also a totem for recognizing the ancestors.
2.Art of Exquisite Weaving
The Atayal rely on materials such as hemp and plant dye to create the most extreme weaving art among the thirteen indigenous peoples.
3. Romantic Jew's Harp Dance
Jew's harp is commonly practiced among nice indigenous peoples but only the Atayal can excel in playing the instrument with dance to express affection among lovers.
4. Beaded Clothing
Some of the male garments are beaded and they belong to the tribal leaders or hunting heroes who wear them at the rituals or as an important dowry at the wedding.
In addition to the beaded clothes, beaded pearls are used to make beaded skirts, beaded hats, and leg coverings
1. Social System in General
The Atayal is a society of equality, led by leaders who possess great leadership ability or hunting heroic behaviors. The important tribal affairs are decided by the noble committee. The Atayal communities set up community council organization formed by tribal nobles.
2. Property Inheritance
The family property inheritance system is built upon the system of “protecting family.” The eldest son inherits the family. If the eldest son passes away, the second son inherits the family. If there is no male hare, the eldest daughter inherits the family. Those who have no offerings are inherited by the male in the immediate family.
Traditionally, the Atayal practice the martial marriage. Only the families without sons practice the natal marriage to prevent the family property goes to different family. The potential mates are those who do not belong to the illegitimate groups for marriage. The best match comes from the children of the close friends. There are also mates from other tribal communities but limit to those in the same clan communities.