Second day of Chinese classes with the third of my dedicated teachers. Each of them has a distinctive background, a distinctive pedagogical approach, and seems to reflect a particular facet of Taiwanese society. Yesterday we discussed Daoist beliefs including the supreme deity Tiāngōng 天公, also known as Yùhuáng Tiāndì 玉皇天帝 or the Jade Emperor, and the matchmaker deity Yuèlǎo 月老 (Yuèxià Lǎorén 月下老人), whose story includes mentions of the “red thread” (hóngxiàn 紅線) used to tie the feet of love partners.
While reading chapters from the textbooks Chinese Traditions and Festivals and Chinese Myths and Folktales, we started exploring specific religious approaches and the ethnic composition of the island. Roughly, it can be summarized into four groups:
- The indigenous people 原住民 yuánzhùmín, also known as the ancestors 祖靈 zǔlíng. During the colonial period the Japanese used the term 藩 fān, which is now taboo, to indicate the minorities. They further distinguished between those who were uneducated, called 生藩 shēngfān (“raw minorities”), and those who had received formal education, the 熟藩 shúfān (“ripe or mature minorities”).
- The Hakka 客家人 Kèjiārén
- Those who came from Southern Fujian 閩南人 Mǐnnánrén and spoke Taiwanese (台語 táiyǔ)
- People from other mainland provinces 外省人 wàishěngrén, who spoke Mandarin (華語 huáyǔ).
Obviously, this also coincided with a wide range of religious backgrounds including, for instance, the cult of the deity Mazu (媽祖 Māzǔ), the goddess of the sea, who has a considerable following in Taiwan.
The following epic movie depicts the resistance of the aborigines under the Japanese colonial rule: Sàidékè Balái 賽德克巴萊 (2011). It portrays in particular the hero of the resistance, 莫那魯道 Mònà Lǔdào (1880–1930).
I will further discuss Laozi and Kongzi in later posts.