The Amis Kakita’an Ancestral House Reconstruction Project

  The target of digitization of the “Amis Tafalong Kakita’an Ancestral House Reconstruction Project” was the approximately 258 video cassettes and 149 photographs recorded by Institute of Ethnology Research Fellow Hu Tai-li from 2003 to 2010 that documented the reconstruction of the Tafalong Kakita’an ancestral home.

  The Tafalong Kakita’an ancestral house is well-known in Amis-related academic literature. To this day, it is the only traditional Amis structure discovered featuring decoratively-carved pillars and beams. The structure was proclaimed as a historical site in 1935 by the Japanese colonial government and was set aside for preservation. However, in 1958 the Kakita’an ancestral house was destroyed by Typhoon Winnie and the tribe was unable to rebuild. Through the intervention of Institute of Ethnology Research Fellow Liu Pin-hsiung, the decorative pillars were transported to Taipei and became part of the Museum of Institute of Ethnology’s collection. In August 2003, youth representatives from Tafalong visited the museum in the hopes of returning the wooden pillars to their village to facilitate reconstruction. This set of recordings document the young people of Tafalong, the Kakita’an clan, shamans, and other representatives of the tribe and their interaction with the ancestral spirits residing in the pillars. The videos also show how the ancestral spirits were returned to Tafalong, the process of reconstruction of the Kakita’an ancestral house, and the changes that occurred following reconstruction.

  In addition, the digital cassettes also include precious recordings of the Tafalong New Year ceremony, oral histories and tribal legends, shamanic rituals, flying of the octagonal Tafalong kite, a musical performed by children from Tafalong Elementary, and Tafalong tribe members climbing the original Cirangasan Mountain.

  The most detailed account in the literature regarding the Amis Tafalong Kakita’an ancestral home is Institute of Ethnology Research Fellow Jen Shien-min’s “The Ancestral Hall of the Hualien Tafalong Amis”(1958 Bulletin of the Institute of Ethnology 6:79-106), which is of great reference value.