fulbright Taiwan online journal

fulbright Taiwan online journal

Tag: Taotao

What the Taotao Means to Me

        On Orchid Island, the Taotao is a ubiquitous symbol.  It can be found inside churches, outside of 7-11, adorning many a tourist trinket, and most importantly, on every Tao boat.  Known as (人型 renxing the person symbol), the Taotao is often depicted as a small person with swirled arms and “curly Qs” coming out of its head. Whimsical in appearance, but steeped in meaning, the Taotao represents a person’s relationship with his or her physical environment.  For Tao people, this environment includes dense mountainous jungle, rocky beaches, and the crystal blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean.            Living on a small island over 40 miles from Taiwan and the Philippines, the people of this island have historically had a comprehensive knowledge of their environment.  In fact, the Tao people had such a depth of understanding that Orchid Island was self-sustaining until the Japanese occupation of Taiwan at the turn of the 20th century.  While the Tao are the only of the 16 officially recognized indigenous tribes of Taiwan that have taboos with otherworldly ramifications, many of these taboos actually contribute to the ecological sustainability of the island.  For example, the taboo that forbids island residents from fishing for or eating

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Research & Reflections

fulbright taiwan online journal