Pas-taai – The Saisiyat Ceremony in 1936

From late November to early December in 1936, Utsurikawa Nenozo, professor of Institute of Ethnology, Imperial Taihoku University, guided his assistant Myamoto Nobuto to the Ta-ai ceremony ground in Hsinchu’s Five Finger Mountain area to investigate the Saisiyat ceremony, Pas-taai. With cameras, they documented the lively large-scale sacred events which lasted for days. Through the precious images, the people and the scenes of the ceremony of seventy years ago reappear before our eyes, including various clans beating glutinous rice cakes, the making of the dance hat Kirakil, ceremonial singing and dancing to entertain the spirits, and processes such as chasing the spirits, sending off the spirits, food worship, chopping hazels, destroying racks, etc.

Region of Filming

Year of Release

1936

Duration

19 minutes

Format

16mm, B/W

Director

Nobuto Miyamoto

Institute of Ethnology of the Imperial Taihoku University was founded in 1928. It is Taiwan's first professional academic institution of anthropology. It was then chaired by Professor Utsurikawa Nenozo, the first Japanese academic to have earned doctorate from the Harvard University in the U.S. The assistant Miyamoto Nobuto is graduated from Keio University in Japan, specializing in Oriental history. Having followed Utsurikawa's courses of anthropology in his college years, he came with him to the newly established university in Taipei in 1928 and became his assistant. In the 1930s, Institute of Ethnology took the aboriginal tribes as its focus of exploration. In the examination process, it was mostly Utsurikawa who took charge of directing the interviews, and Miyamoto was in charge of taking photos. So there remain many precious photos and videos from the ethnography field studies of the period. After the Second World War, there have been several transformations and changes of title in the institution, which is the predecessor of today's department of anthropology of the National Taiwan University.