Introduction to the Puyuma Shamans and Rituals Project

  The Puyuma Shamans and Rituals Project was headed by research fellow Hu Tai-Li of Academia Sinica’s Institute of Ethnography and was a compilation of smaller projects focused on Puyuma tribe shamans and their rituals. The projects consisted of research workers and assistants over several different time periods traveling to Puyuma tribe’s Nanwang, Chihpen, Tai’an (Tamalakau) and other villages to gather field video data using portable video cameras. A total of 93 videos and 337 photographs were recorded in the process.

  Puyuma shamans and rituals digital video and sound data were sub-divided according to the type of rituals involved into the following categories: shaman initiation rites, shamanic group rituals, funeral rites and tribal ceremonies, among others. Puyuma shamans and their magic were renowned and, in ancient times, the eastern-based Ami and other neighboring tribes dreaded even their very mention. In recent years, Nanwang village Puyuma shamanic heritage has been facing a crisis. In 1992, Hu Tai-Li led a work team who were extremely fortunate to document Nanwang Village head shaman (sulao) Pan Zai-Mei held a shaman initiation ceremony for a newly accepted apprentice (ra’an) Wang Yu-Lan. Shamanic group rituals included the Nanwang shamans’ coven performance of annual shamanic rites in each practitioner’s household, documented in March 1993 as well as the 2008 Puyuma Tai’an village (Tamalakau) shamans coven which held worshipping ceremonies at the home altars of each shaman. Complete recordings of funeral rites included all the traditional shamanic rituals performed after the passing of Nanwang Village ’s head shaman (sulao) Pan Zai-Mei in 2003. Also documented in 2002 was a farewell ritual for a Nanwang woman who became Christian. Tribal ceremonies include the Chihpen Village harvest rites, Nanwang Village great hunt, and Formosan barking deer ceremony. All of these are extremely valuable digital videos showcasing the Puyuma shamans and their rituals.