Myth of the Images of Aborigines
Ⅰ. Origin of the creation of myth and demystification
The proverb “Every road leads to Rome” is used to symbolize that a person can succeed in whatever profession he or she chooses and is well known for that. However, the name “Rome” is the origin of the creation of myth and demystification.
In the shared culture of the old world, the most famous and best documented piece is the “myth of Rome’s creation.” The earlier translation currently available can be found in the “Histories” written by Fabius Pictor and “Purnica” by Naevius. The myth tells the story of how Aeneas brought a group of refugees from Troy to the Latin seaside. A few centuries later, the throne was passed to Numitor and Amulius. But Numitor’s daughter was allegedly pregnant by the god of war, Mars, and gave birth to twin boys by the name of Romulus and Remus. Obviously, the two authors told different stories about the origin of Rome. One is a copy of the existing legend, while the other is a mixture of two different stories. They are the story of Aeneas and the story with the addition of the twin brothers of Romulus and Remus. According to the first story, Rome was created by immigrants from Asia Minor. But the second story indicates that Rome owed its origin to a Latin People. However, the earliest recorded history in Greece ignored both of these legends and attributed the construction of Rome to a person named Rhomer or Rhomos. By 400 B.C., Greek people knew more about legends surrounding Rome. We therefore have some information closer to the ursprunglich. For example, according to Alcimus, Aeneas had a son called Romulus. His daughter Alba gave birth to a son called Rhomos, who was the builder of Rome. According to Callias, a woman from Troy named Rohme was married to the King of the Latin State. Their sons, Rhomos and Rhomylus, built a city and named it after their mother. As a result, the story of the twin brothers seems to linger between legends about Rome and the guesses by Greek historians.
The issue of whether scripts of the New Testament from ancient Greece was the ursprunglich ushered in the research and development of Text kritik. This set the foundations for German scholars of Text kritik in developing their methodology (such as criticism of Bible scripts, criticism of formats, criticism of editing and criticism of the source of data). The role of Die Ursprunge der Textkritik als wissenschaftliche Disziplin as the origin of academic research is related to the kritik of Homerische Epen. Poetry readers occasionally changed some of the words when reading aloud contents from Ilias and Odysee to express their own original thoughts. As a result, the number of early versions of Homerische Epen grew. Later on, there were official versions of Homerische Epen that were different from the versions popular in the private sector. This started the big debate of the originality of Homerische Epen. In 450 B.C., Aristoteles also published a version for his student Alexander den Grossen, commonly called ”? ?k ν?ρΘηκοs”.
Thus, the adoption of scientific methods to discriminate the contents of Homerische Epen started in the Greek times. This research of Text kritik was conducted in the famous Alexander Library. The librarian at that time, Zenodutus (274 B.C.) wanted to restore the Homer Text and made four types of revisions to the scripts of Homerische Epen: (1) Deletion of the scripts he felt was falsified; (2) Circling suspicious Variante; (3) Rearrangement of the order of scripts; (4) Incorporation of new Variante that was uncommon at the time.
Certainly, this research methodology of Text kritik directly influenced the scripts of New Testament written in ancient Greek. Similarly, to discriminate whether the scripts were original also led to discourse among scholars of Text kritik for almost half of a century. The script kritik method used in editing ancient Greek scripts mainly involves two steps, i.e. selection and proofreading. Selection is the step to examine all data available and select the best part as the main text of the script. The purpose of proofreading is to delete mistakes that can be found in even the best manual copied versions. The German scholar at the end of the 18th century, Johannes Jokob Griesebach (1745~1812), established a solid foundation for the kritik research of New Testament script from ancient Greece. The kritik version of ancient Greek New Testament most commonly used by the academia and the religious world in Germany was the “Nestle-Aland,Novum Testamentum Graece”. They also established a set of kritik system and standards to categorize the year and grades of ancient manual copies and translated copies, thus providing an excellent academic tool for those interested in Text kritik in generations to come.
Take the script written in “ΚαΤα λογ?αν,16:19” for an example (see attachment for the kritik version of the script and ancient manual copy P75 from the Third Century):
Variante ： πολο?σcοs OVOMατc ΝΕUηS
In the Variant, “OVOMατc NEUηS”(the name of Ninivi) was added in the ancient manual copy P75. This Variant was created by the writer of the manual copy P75 to satisfy the need of readers in the Third Century. The writer added the name “ ΝΕUηS ”(Ninivi) to let readers understand the name of the rich landlord (πολο?σcοs). The writer obviously knew the tradition of “ ΝΕUηS ” because the name (ΝcνΕUηS)of the rich landlord (πολο?σcοs) was mistakenly written as (ΝΕUηS), missing the alphabet “ V ”. The theologians in Taiwan insist that the landlord’s name be called “tax collector”. I can only say that it is only an added name not related to the original text.
Ⅱ. Myth and interpretation
Renowned German scholar, Rudolf Bultman, proposed the theory of Entmytheologisierung at the beginning of the 20th Century. In simple terms, the theory proposes to represent the facts wrapped in a myth. Bultman believes that “Entmytheologisierung” is a method of interpretation studies. Under any circumstances, the interpretation of a content must ask this: “Was ist es urspr?nglich?” (What is the original meaning?). For example, anthropologists can explain the social and religious significance of the “facial tattoo” of aborigines. If we further ask the “urspr?nglich” of “facial tattoo,” and without the analysis of Textkritik, Literaturkritik, or redakitioskritik, it is possible that no one scholar dare answer this question. Therefore, Bultman divided history into two types: (1) Historie, i.e. the facts of past events; (2) Geschichte, i.e. history with interpretations. Bultman believed that myth could not be explained by reason, but only by new myths that had been changed in forms. H. J. Rose once said,” Scientists and mythmakers can both present an answer to why it rains. But the answer provided by myth makers takes the form of a story.”
Ⅲ. Political myth and mythmakers
Political scientist Henry Tudor maintains that political myth tells stories of a political society and has the objective of becoming a clear explanation of an event. It is a story told to support a certain practical purpose. As long as it is treated as a real story, it is successful. Thus, Tudor does not deny that when presenting argument for a myth, mythmakers are either lying to themselves or have the intent of lying to the public at the very beginning. In other words, a myth is a story and the dramatic description of an event. It has a protagonist, story layout, a beginning, a middle section and an end. Mythmakers do not create facts. The facts that they interpret are already present in the social culture that they belong. What makes their interpretation a myth is not the contents but the dramatic form and the fact that it is used as a discourse of reality. A myth can only become a discourse of reality when it is believed to be true. Political myth is always the myth of a group of people. Its hero or protagonist is not an individual, but the random grouping of a certain tribe, people and ethnicity. Myth is a very simple historical phenomenon. If we want to understand the original meaning of a myth, we’d better pay close attention to the original situation (Sitze im Leben) and environment in which the myth is first created. We should ask exactly what Bultmann asked, “Was ist es urspr?nglich”, not the story and interpretation that wrap around a myth.
Ⅳ. The myth and phenomenon of aboriginal image
From 1900 on, the images of aborigines were first used in political promotional films. Later on, film productions on aboriginal themes added the connotations of many myths and present these themes in the dramatic form of a story. For instance, in February 1907 the Japanese produced a film entitled “Introduction of Taiwan”. The purpose of the film was to introduce to the audience in Japan the success of colonization of Taiwan. Aborigines were treated as the example of success of the aborigine managing policy by the Japanese colonization government of taming the “local aborigines”.
In contrast, the film shown in October 1986 entitled “From Tangshan to Taiwan” represent the mainstream media report at the time that widely popularized the success of Chinese’s immigration overseas in China’s recent history. It is a film about the roots of Chinese people and the blood and tears shed by Chinese pioneers in new colonies, where Wu Sha became the pioneering hero of the Han people. However, the film ignored the beginning of the tragic fate of aborigines in Taiwan who were forced to leave their homeland. It is similar to the film entitled “The hero of Alishan” directed by Sakata (阪田具隆) in 1927. The film is said to have based on the original novel by Akira Iwasaki (岩崎昶) and a copycat of the story of Indians being conquered and eliminated by White intruders told in a U.S. Western movie.
Starting from 1923, the Aborigine Management Section in the Japanese Governor’s Office produced films on the subject of prohibiting facial tattoos and establishment of schools for aborigine children for the purpose of changing the habits in aboriginal life.
In contrast, the film “Hero Wu Fong” produced by Taiwan Provincial Film Production Studio in 1932 was a drama about the elimination of the customs of beheading to support the government policy of taming the aboriginal tribes. It is a production with a purpose and serious intentions.
In 1925, the Japanese Governor’s Office sponsored the stage performance of “Hero Wu Fong”, which won the applause of Miya Kitashi Rogawa (北白川宮親王) and created quite a stir in Taipei. Wu Fong was formed under official intentions into a stereotypical myth to serve as an excuse and means of the Japanese policy of “educating the aboriginal tribes.”
After the war ended, the Taiwan Provincial Film Production Studio (Taiwan Studio for short) carried on the legacy from the Japanese colonization in terms of the contents and style of news report films produced between 1946 and 1983. It served as a means of policy propaganda by government authorities and of whitewashing. For more than 38 years, Taiwan Studio made a total of 1317 news report films. Among them only 12 films mention news related to the aborigines, representing less than 1%. It is obvious that the subject of aborigines is widely ignored. In particular, in the film entitled “improvement of the life of aborigines in mountainous areas,” the entire narration is accompanied by music of other ethnic background. The film reflects that government’s educational policy of forcing aboriginal people to accept the Han culture, which results in the loss of the native tongue and culture of the Yamei Tribe.
Mythical meaning was added to the above films for political purposes. After the war, the government carried on the myth of “Wu Fong” created by the Japanese. The Han people also created their own myth of “Wu Sha” when they developed Yilan. The two politically motivated films about the myths of “the two Wu’s” prove that presence of the stereotypes of the aborigines in the mind of the Han people. In addition, the film entitled “It doesn’t matter if it lights up” shot in the island of Lanyu by a private film producer mimicked the model seen in the foreign film “上帝也瘋狂”. The film basically laughed at the “backwardness” of the Yamei Tribe on the basis of a sense of superiority of the Han people, and caused tremendous anger among the Yamei Tribe.
The rapid growth of the electronic media in Taiwan since 1980s and the film exhibitions of outstanding foreign documentaries prompted the beginning of a more dramatic presentation among Taiwan’s television production. In 1984, Public Television Services leased time from the three broadcast TV channels to air their programs. They also tried to present the cultural aspects of the aborigines in their programs. At the same time, the academic chose to document the social and cultural phenomena of the aboriginal people in a more academic approach. As a result, there were significant changes in media representations of aboriginal images. The aborigines also started to become the subject that pursues the media, instead of being the object being filmed. Then in July 1998, Public Television Services opened its own channel and aired exclusive programs on the themes of aboriginal culture and tribal life.
Ⅴ. Myth and analysis of aboriginal images
To further analyze the myth of aboriginal images, we can take two films as our case studies: “Hero Wu Fong” produced by Taiwan Studio in 1932 and the “Bell of Shayin” produced jointly by Songchu Film Productions and Manshu Eiga (滿州映畫協會) in 1943.
I. The story of “Hero Wu Fong”
From changes made to the source of literature regarding the “legend of Wu Fong”, a number of “story” plots were added during the Japanese Occupation. There were also additional data such as the dates of Wu Fong’s birth and death and his family tree including his parents and offspring. The image of Wu Fong was recreated into a respected personality by the Chou Tribe. The theme of the “story of Wu Fong” was shifted into the sacrifice of Wu Fong in exchange of the elimination of the horrible habit of beheading among the Chou Tribe. The shift fully reflects the author’s manipulation of the story plots and intentional revision by adding “historical, rational and conscious” “story” (suspense) plots to Wu Fong’s story. However, the many story (suspense) plots added by the author lack the explanation of their original (urspr?nglic) source, and are considered a falsified version. Nevertheless, the Historical Research Commission of Taiwan Province (台灣文獻會) explained that “Although the facts of Wu Fong’s story can not be traced in any documents or records, it does not hurt to retain his legend of “sacrificing himself for righteousness” because it is for the good of the country and people.”
II. The story of “Bell of Shayin”
On September 27, 1938, a Taiya Tribe girl from the Liyohen village in Nanau, Yilan named Shayon Hayon helped carry the luggage of the teacher named Masaki Takita (田北正記) from the school in her village from the mountains in a storm. She fell off a narrow wood bridge over the Wutanan River. Two days later, there was a headline on the “Taiwan Daily News” of September 29 that read “Aboriginal woman fell off to a river and missing.”
In an article entitled “Sad stories of the aboriginal world after the war” written by Kanahara (加奈原) published in the “Journal of Taiwan’s Patriotic Women”, Vol. 112, it was further reported that Shayin was the deputy leader of the Girls Youth Legion and that she had greater patriotism than the general public.
Two years later, the 18th Governor, who had just assumed the position for five months in 1941, gave the Liyohen a bell inscribed with the words of “Patriotic Girl” and “By Taiwan Governor Kiyoshi Hasegawa (長谷川清) in April of 1943”, which was later referred to as the “Bell of Shayin”. In the same year, an article published in the journal of “Friends of Aboriginal Management”, Vol. 117, also added a detail that Shayon was carrying a “Japanese flag” at the time of her accident.
Starting from May 2, 1941, a Japanese painter by the name of Homosuke Shiotsuki (鹽月桃甫) painted pictures featuring Shayin as the theme. An article in Taiwan Daily News of October 9 in that year reported that another painter by the name of Seigi Horita (堀田清治) offered a painting featuring Shayin as the theme to Governor Kiyoshi Hasegawa (長谷川清).
In June of the same year, the Columbia Record Company launched a song called “the Bell of Shayin” that became extremely popular throughout Taiwan. A Taiwanese writer by the name of Wu Mansha also wrote a novel entitled “Bell of Shayang” to praise the patriotism of Shayon. As for the description of the event itself, the novel told the story of Shayon trying her best to hang on to the Japanese sword of her Japanese teacher when she fell off the river. According to the novel, Shayon was saved from the river but died after writing her name on the Japanese flag.
The series of media events represented the concerted efforts by means of such media as movie, literature, novel, poetry, songs and paintings to recreate Shayin as a patriotic girl who sacrificed her life for her mother country of Japan under the historical background of the “holy war” in progress at the time.
After the war ended, Taiwan transformed from a former Japanese colony into the Republic of China. The once famous event of a patriotic girl named Shayin faded into the public sector of solitude and silence. To eradicate the “Japanese” assimilation and achieve the integration process of “Chinese” assimilation, remnants related to Shayin began to be eliminated. First of all, the Bell of Shayin went missing. Then the memorial stone tablet located by the Wuta Road was sabotaged. The words of “patriotic” and “Shayin” were scrubbed unintelligible from the Shayin epitath bearing the title of “Site of the Patriotic Girl Shayin’s fall”. Besides, the song about the patriotic girl, “Bell of Shayin”, was replaced by Chinese lyrics under the title of “Moonlight Serenade.”
Then in 1990, the historical even of Shayin received renewed reflections and discussions. Wanyau Chou wrote an article entitled “The story of Bell of Shayin and its Repercussions”. In 1993, the Council for Cultural Planning and Development and the National Institute of Film Documents hosted the annual Cultural and Arts Festival, and held an exhibition called “The exhibit of images—aborigines in images”. In 1994, the Museum of History of the Yilan County held an exhibition called “The myth of the Bell of Shayin—Uncovering a sealed page in the history of aborigines”. In 1998, the program of Public Television services, Aborigines’ News Magazine, produced a program length report entitled “The death of Shayon and the mythical bell”, which disclosed the significance of the myth surrounding Shayon’s death. In addition, the NHK Television in Japan told a new story about “respect for teachers” based on the historical events related to Shayon and added yet another new interpretation of the “Shayon event” by the modern Japanese people.
The simple event of Shayon falling into a river 61 years ago was shrouded in political myths for almost half a century and only given its true significance only ten years ago. But how does the Taiya Tribe in Nanau nowadays interpret the “Shayon event”?
The purpose of the production of the movie “Bell of Shayin” in 1943 was not to present the historical truth of the Shayon event nor of a documentary nature. Instead, the Japanese colonial government wanted to use the story of Shayon to beautify the policy propagation of the colonial government. The story not only had the function of “taming” the aborigines, but also became the myth in support of so-called Japanese “holy war”. The movie “Bell of Shayin” itself was no longer the description of a true story. It simply used the story as an excuse or a means of interpretation to complete the reconstruction of a myth. Thus, the many works related to Shayon after the war, regardless of fictional novels or movies and paintings, all made the truth of the accidental fall of Shayon vaguer and vaguer. This is what Rultamann referred to as “Entmytheologisierung”, that is, the unwrapping of the mythical layer and interpretations wrapping around the truth. After aborigines have unraveled the mythical layer, how does the Taiya Tribe reinterpret the story of Shayon and recreate a modern story, giving new meaning? Let me explain the story of Shayon’s fall again. She “died on the job” for transporting the luggage of a policeman “on duty”. We may eliminate the subject of nationality and connotations of the political myths. Focus the interpretation instead on Shayon’s fall due to “fully fulfilling her duty”. Her spirits in “fulfill one’s duty by sacrificing one’s life” as the new interpretation should be well received by her tribesmen. Certainly, the Taiya Tribe will also give new historical meaning and new interpretation to the Shayon event.
The truth surrounding the event of Shayon’s fall was wrapped by myths for almost half a century. Now we can understand the truth and explain it through relevant historical evidence, official documents and testimony by witnesses. However, the approaches used by mythmakers are different. We discover from the above discussions that the approaches always started out from a practical perspective with a purpose or as a propaganda for a certain action plan. Therefore, when a myth is considered as truth, it is because the myth gives meaning to people’s practical experiences, not because of proofs from historical evidence. Once people find that the environment has changed, their perspective in reality changes along with it, and they start to rearrange the meaning of the myth. However, we have to ask the question: Who is the mythmaker? What are his political, social and cultural connections to those receiving the myth? The answers to this question should reveal the motives behind the mythmaking.
After Taiwan’s restoration, the previous “Shayin” myth was given a new mythical meaning in the new environment because its practical purpose was changed. Hence, mythmakers began to revise the original meaning into a new purpose. They even resorted to the destruction of the epitaph or artifacts related to the old myth to reach the goal of recreating a new myth.
Ten years ago, the myth of the images of aborigines started to be widely reflected and discussed. Some even tried to restore the original meaning of the myth. However, the subject of aborigines as it appears in the coverage of the mainstream media is still very much criticized by aborigines themselves. During the workshop for aboriginal journalists held at the UN senior specialist office in Madrid between 26 and 28 of January 1998, a general argument surfaced again and again. That is, the participating aborigines generally felt that the mainstream media rarely reflect the will of the ruling class. Instead, they only report a story after conflicts or tragedies have occurred or about the folk rituals of aborigines. The presentation of issues related to aborigines in the mainstream media is often placed in the section with low viewing rate or the entertainment section. The mainstream news media hardly give proper attention to and report of the issues that they really care about. Thus, aboriginal journalists face the challenge of how to provide interesting news to the general public without giving sensational reports.
We hope when the UN senior specialist office for human rights affairs plans the next workshop for aboriginal media workers, it does not overlook the rights of aboriginal media workers in Taiwan to learn from one another. We hope that the office can open up an international aborigine information system and network to provide the “news perspective” of aborigines to the mainstream media.
Ⅵ . Exkurs
1.The myth of “Kausha Tribe
The term “Kausha” carries the tradition of Japanese mythology and history. Using the term “Kausha” to rename a aboriginal tribe is meant to propagate the historical appropriateness of Japanese rule of Taiwan. The Japanese renamed the aboriginal people as the “Kausha” tribe with the purpose to transform aborigines from “local aborigines” into a “semi-civilized” tribe, who would learn the new life as citizens of the Japanese emperor through Japanese rule and transformation. Kausha tribe represents the outstanding people with Japanese spirits. Under the mythical meaning of the design of assimilating Taiwanese people into the emperor’s citizens, the tribe was supposed to discard, allegedly at their own will, the mentality of being discriminated against. They were, supposedly, to become citizens of Japan, fight for the nation of Japan and eventually sacrifice themselves at the battle lines in Southeast Asia. Therefore, the term “Kausha” tribe signifies the successful example of Japanese colonization of Taiwan, and an important process of transforming the aborigines into citizens of Japan.
2. The myth of the “Restoration of Taiwan”
After Taiwan’s restoration, aborigines faced new challenges in a new environment. They were forced to give up the Japanese language they already used for some time, their Japanese surname, Japanese spirits and habits. Now they had to learn mandarin Chinese all over again, adopt Chinese names. Even the names of their villages were replaced by teachings from the late R.O.C. president, Chiang Kai-shek (e.g. Jen-ai Village, Hsin-yi Village and Ho-ping Village). Even the term of “restoration” was politically mystified by calling what should have been an “occupation” the “restoration” through “cheating” and “letting mistakes be mistakes.” The commander of the Allied Forces, McArthur, mistakenly believed that the “Cairo Declaration“ and the “signing“ of it announced on December 1, 1943 already returned “Taiwan” to the hands of the “Republic of China.” In fact, the “Declaration” was not signed by any party. I believe that Chiang knew very well that the declaration was actually a “news communique” without any signature. However, he took advantage of it and changed an “occupation” into a “restoration” to give his action the connotations of a “political myth.”
Georg Strecker / Udo Schnelle
“The myth of the Bell of Shayin—Uncovering a sealed page in the history of aborigines,” History Monthly, Vol. 79:108-114
Dachiszu Bawan達吉斯 巴萬
“Illusions in the films and the historical truth—Bell of Shayin,” Movie Review Bimonthly, Vol. 12(3):36-39
“Saving the fate of collective oblivion—Observations and analysis of the opening show of “Bell of Shayin” in Wushe,” Independence Evening Daily, p.19, March 13, 1994
1994 “Bell of Shayin: Memory and oblivion of images,”〈 Movie Review Bimonthly, Vol. 12(3):69
“The Kausha Yiyon Force in the ‘scars’ of the recent history of Japan,” Conference on the history of Kausha Yiyon Force from Taiwan
“Workshop for Aboriginal Journalists,”《原住民記者講習班》，E/CN.4/Sub.2/AC.4/1998/6, May 18, 1998
Changes of the sources of literature regarding the “Wu Fong Legend”
(Poem in honor of Wu Fong)
5th year of the Reign of Emperor Hsienfong
Report on Yunlin County
(The story of interpreter Wu Fong)
20th year of the Reign of Emperor Kuanhsu
Goto (後藤) Epitaph
(Epitaph of Alishan Interpreter Wu Fong)
Shinpei Goto (後藤新平)
Biography of Interpreter Wu Fong
(Epitaph of Alishan Interpreter Wu Fong)
General History of Taiwan
(Biography of Wu Fong)
(Biography 3, Vol. 31)
After Taiwan’s Restoration
Draft of General Chronicle of Taiwan Province
(Biography of the hero Wu Fong)
Historical Research Commission of Taiwan Province
Textbook of elementary school
National Institute of Publications
Changes of the sources of literature regarding the “Bell of Shayin”
Shayun’s fall in the river
September 27, 1938
Taiwan Daily News (Shetien)
Aboriginal woman fell off to a river
September 29, 1938
Taiwan Governor, Kiyoshi Hasegawa(長谷川清)
Patriotic Gir (+)
Bell of Shayin
Journal of Taiwan’s Patriotic Women
Deputy leader of the Girls Youth Legion
Homosuike Shiotsuki (鹽日桃甫)
Seigi Horita (掘田清治)
Images of Shayon
Friends of Aboriginal Management, Vol. 117
Shayon was carrying a “Japanese flag” at the time of her accident
Shayon hanging on to the Japanese sword of her Japanese teacher when she fell off the river (+) signing her name on the Japanese flag.
Bell of Shayin
Songchu Film Productions in Japan
Manshu Eiga (滿州映畫協會)
Kausha Yiyong Force
Japanese assimilation (+) holy war
After the Restoration
Bell of Shajon
Love story in which a teenage girl named Shajon committed suicide for love
The background of friendly to Japan altered into that of resistance to Japanese occupation
NHK Television in Japan
Respect for teachers
Memorial epitaph of Shayin
The words “Shayin” and “patriotic” in the epitaph destroyed
The Bell of Shayin disappeared
[Chinese Version/Back to the Schedule/College of Law/National Taiwan University]