Two diverse systems of the Puyuma’s origins are commonly known:
A. Legend of “Born from Stone”
It is said that the Puyuma were born from the stone, originated from the Meiho coastal area of Taimali Township in Taitung County. This system includes Jhihben village, Chienho village, Lichia village, and among the others. The Puyuma in the Chienho village set up a monument of origin to commemorate the three ancestors who migrated to Taiwan from far.
B. Legend of “Born from Bamboo”
The legend is congregated around the Nanwangli (currently Taitung city). According to the noblemen’s descriptions, the ancestors of the Puyuma were born from bamboo. The differences of origin derive from the different geographical locations. The Born from Stone origin focuses on Jhihben, residing next to Paiwan and Rukai villages. Hence, the cultural features and languages difference are greatly influenced by other tribes. The Puyuma group, close to the Amis, resembles the Amis in their soft linguistic sounds.
In the Kangxi era of Qing Dynasty, the Puyuma of the Nanwang community conquered the other gangs led by Chu Yiguei. Hence, the Puyuma were granted as “Puyuma Master,” along with mandarin uniform for the court. The nearby Amis and the Paiwan had to offer food and tax. This has been a honorable history of the Puyuma.
A. The Sparta-like community training
B. The Exquisite Embroidery Craftwork.
The Puyuma is noted for its cross-stitch embroidery with figure dancing lines.
C. The Popularity of Wearing Flower Wreath
Despite that other tribes also wear flower wreath, the systematic form and the symbolic meaning of adulthood for men are unknown to other indigenous groups.
D. The Popularity of Witchery
Traditionally, witchery was very popular among the Puyuma whereas other indigenous groups feared for it. Witchery can be divided into white witchery and black witchery. White witchery cures illnesses and black witchery curses victims. Currently, the Puyuma eight communities still have many priests. There are over 20 priests and priestesses in the Nanwang, in charge of tribal religious rituals or asking for blessing and clearing away evil spirits. There is even one priest who has his own clinic to tell the future, clear away evil spirits, solve life problems for the Puyuma and the Hans.
A. Social System in General
There are two leaders in the Puyuma Social Structure: rahan, a male priest, who is in charge of tribal important rituals and ayawan, a political leader played by the man with most leadership ability in the village, in charge of negotiations over the important tribal affairs and who is also the leader of hunting ritual and fights.
The Puyuma is matrilineal society with the following characteristics.
*In terms of marriage, men marry into women’s home.
*The children take mother’s last name.
*The property is inherited from mother to daughter.
*The manament and responsibilities of ritual rights are maintained by the women in mother’s side.
Nevertheless, these customs are subject to change along with the development of time.
B. Property Inheritance
The eldest daughter inherits the family and the children adopted the mother’s last name which remains even after parents’ divorce. Generally speaking, the eldest daughter inherits her mother’s housing, land, and other properties. She also possesses parental rights to take care of other siblings.
There are two different kinds of marriage—marriage into marital house and marriage into natal house. Modern youth is influenced by the Hans so the Puyuma is currently practicing marriage into martial house and occasional marriage into natal house.