Sun, Jul 17, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Tao canoe from Orchid Island arrives in Taipei

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

After an 18-day voyage from Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) to Taiwan, the Si Mangavang — the largest canoe to be built by the Tao Aborigines on Orchid Island in a century — completed its 800km journey yesterday and arrived at its final destination in Dajia Riverside Park in Taipei City.

The 18-man Si Mangavang means “Port Calls” in Tao.

Sharing the pride of completing the 18-day sea journey, Orchid Island Township Mayor Chiang Tuo-li (江多利) said the voyage — which began on June 29 when the boat left the island and sailed through the Kuroshio current, a strong Pacific Ocean current — was blessed by good weather conditions.

He dismissed criticism that the construction of the canoe and the planning of the journey did not follow the traditions of the Tao, and said Tao tribal elders had participated in the preparation process.

“We held tribal meetings and reached a consensus on the event … It is important that we pass on our culture to the next generations and share it with the public,” he said.

The journey, which was funded by the Ministry of the Interior, also sparked claims about the event being used by the government as a tool for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re-election campaign.

Brushing aside the claims, Ma and Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) both attended the arrival ceremony yesterday and promised to promote Aboriginal cultures.

Ma joined the oarsmen in doing a “war dance” to celebrate the completion of the journey and said the government would put more effort into preserving the “sea culture” of Orchid Island.

“The canoes and the journey highlighted the adventurous spirit of the Tao tribe and its beautiful culture. We should all respect and appreciate the cultures of the Aborigines, and hopefully the journey will become a future tradition,” he said.

The vessel will be on display at the Taipei City Hall from today to Oct. 15.

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