The cultural custom of Truku tribe is similar to that of the Atayal. Despite both living in mountains, hunting and cultivating, and viewing rainbow as the bridge of divinity, the two tribes cannot communicate with each other in their languages. That is why the connection between them is rare, even though they have adjacent distributions.
About three to four hundred years ago, Truku ancestors crossed the Central Range to live along Liwu River and Mugua River in the east because of the insufficient cultivation land and deficiency of hunting ground due to population growth. The area of Taiwan where the Truku tribe resides was therefore called Taroko.The underlying meanings of the Truku tribe are “platform on the mountainside,” “place that can be inhabited,” and “watchtower” for defense. This region is where the Taroko National Park is currently located.
“Taroko National Park” is only a famous tourist sightseeing spot for most people, but on the other hand it embraced abundant cultural histories in depth—it was the battlefield where Truku tribe fought with Japanese Army to protect their land, living, and properties from the invasion of Japanese. In 1914, more than twenty thousand Japanese soldiers attacked 2,500- 3,000 Truku men from three directions. Truku people fought back hard; however, their traditional weapons were no match for the excellent weapons and arms Japanese held, and they were outnumbered. A large number of Truku people were injured and died in the battle, and finally, after three months they surrendered. Afterward, Truku people set up stones to symbolize the surrender and memorize the very touching history.
Traditionally, Truku men needed to be good at hunting or have succeeded in head-hunting (only when they had succeeded in head-hunting or became excellent in hunting could they have facial tattoos), which were the top priority, and then behaved and be kind-hearted, and less importantly, be dignified, rich, and brave in order to get married. As to women, they were firstly required to be good at weaving (only women who could weave could have facial tattoos, and those with tattoos on face were regarded as beauties), and then diligent, good at housekeeping, and gentle. There were rigid rules regulating the relationships between men and women in the tribe because of the belief and fear of ancestor spirits deep in their heart. For instance, young or married men and women were not allowed to step out of the line.
1. General Hierarchy
Teachings of Truku ancestors—Gaya, was the central guidelines for a family and tribal unit and should be followed seriously by every member; otherwise, the whole family or tribal unit would be punished if anyone broke the rule. In Truku tribe units, clever and honest members would be elected as heads of the units. Heads and other staffs are non-paid positions, but they were always invited to tribal members’ celebrations and ceremonies as the only privilege.
2. Property Inheritance
In Truku tribe, only males were able to inherit properties. When the oldest son and the second oldest one moved out after getting married, they could be given one or more than two parcels of land.
The youngest son could not move out when he was married, and it was his responsibility to look after his parents; thus the properties left belonged to him.
There was no adoption of a son-in-law in Truku.
Women seized from enemy tribal units were kept in chiefs’ house. Men could choose the women they like, and plan a wedding after the permission of chiefs and elders. Chiefs and elders thus accounted for every detail, and expenses were subsidized by powerful people in the tribe.