Sounding Paiwan: Institutionalization and Heritage-Making of Paiwan Lalingedan and Pakulalu Flutes in Contemporary Taiwan

Lalingedan ni vuvu namaya tua qaun

Lalingedan ni vuvu namaya tua luseq……

Lalingedan sini pu’eljan nu talimuzav a’uvarun

Lalingedan nulemangeda’en mapaqenetje tua saluveljengen


The ancestor’s nose flute is like weeping.

The ancestor’s nose flute is like tears...

When I am depressed, the sound of the nose flute becomes a sign of sorrow.

When I hear the sound of the nose flute, I always have my lover in mind.


—Sauniaw Tjuveljevelj, from the song “Lalingedan ni vuvu,

in the album Nasi[1]


In 2011, the Taiwanese government’s Council for Cultural Affairs declared Indigenous Paiwan lalingedan (nose flutes) and pakulalu (mouth flutes) to be National Important Traditional Arts.[2] Sauniaw Tjuveljevelj, a designated preserver of Paiwan nose and mouth flutes at the county level, released her first album Nasi in 2007, which included one of her Paiwan songs “Lalingedan ni vuvu [“The Ancestor’s Nose Flute”]. Using both nose flute playing and singing in Paiwan language, the song shows her effort to accentuate her Paiwan roots by connecting with her ancestors via the nose flute. The lines of the song mentioned above reflect how prominent cultural discourses in Taiwan depict the instruments today; the sound of Paiwan flutes (hereafter referred to collectively as Paiwan flutes) resembles the sound of weeping, which is a voice that evokes a sense of ancestral past and “thoughtful sorrow.”

However, the music of Paiwan flutes was rarely labeled as sorrowful in literature before the mid-1990s. Since both instruments had all the hallmarks of an endangered tradition by the second half of the twentieth century, when and how did the sonic character of Paiwan flutes become aesthetically coded with this particular sense of “thoughtful sorrow”? How does this transformation contribute to the process of national cultural production? Understanding the process of institutionalization as an “ideological prerequisite,” this article focuses on how the large-scale music investigations conducted by anthropologists and ethnomusicologists in the 1990s articulated the relationship between the instruments, their related aesthetic experience, and an “ideal” Paiwan sound.

This research is based on fieldwork I undertook in Taiwan in 2016–17 and 2018, including extensive time spent observing a number of acts of transmission of Paiwan flutes, such as performances, and local community events, 17 interviews with domestic scholars and Indigenous musical practitioners, Paiwan flute lessons with master artist Gilegilau Paqalius and his apprentices, and numerous conversations with my Paiwan interlocutors about the perception of Paiwan flutes in contemporary society. Additionally, secondary sources include relevant historical archives, publications, investigation reports, audio-visual items, and survey data from libraries, archives, websites, individual collectors, and government reports. I argue that the designation of Paiwan flutes as a national cultural property is the result of the institutionalization that has taken place since the 1990s. These investigations and publications have not only brought the flutes to public attention, but also played a significant role in reinforcing certain affective values as a core symbol of the Paiwan group, which has encouraged potential practitioners to return to what they had proposed as the “traditional” aesthetic.


Paiwan Flutes

An overview of the historical and demographic aspects of the Paiwan people is helpful for understanding the process of institutionalization of Paiwan flutes. According to the 2018 census, about 2% of the total Taiwanese population of 23 million,[3] were Indigenous peoples, the descendants of Austronesian-speaking peoples who have inhabited Taiwan for millennia before the arrival of Chinese immigrants.[4] The Paiwan people are the second most numerous of the current sixteen officially recognized Indigenous groups of Taiwan,[5] with a population of around 90,000. Historically, the Paiwan people mostly inhabited the southern mountain area of Taiwan, maintaining towns of slate houses that have often been described as an embodiment of the stratification system of Paiwan traditional society—which comprised the hereditary nobility (mamazangiljan), the distinguished class (pualu), and commoners (qatitan)—in ethnographic literature (Chou 2013:47–48). Despite much of the Paiwan people now either resettle in the lowland townships adjacent to their upland homesites or reside in urban centers, several Paiwan people I knew still occasionally traveled back and forth between the new home and the old towns, and still consider these old towns the locus to learn about knowledge and life in the mountains.

The nose flute (lalingedan) is traditionally made of two bamboo pipes: one with finger holes and the other without. The hole-less pipe normally produces a drone that accompanies the other, holed pipe (Figure 1). Although the hole-less pipe can only make a drone without melodic variation, it can do so in different octaves and overtones through breath control. Origin stories of the nose flutes contain references to a young man finding a “hundred-pace viper” (Deinagkistrodon acutus) and drilling holes in bamboo pipes to emulate the sound produced by the snake.[6] Because of this structure, the lalingedan produces a unique texture, which many Paiwan people conceive of as closely corresponding with the texture of the Paiwan group singing style called cemikecikem: one higher voice part with one drone voice underneath it (Tseng 2012:83). Double-pipe flutes therefore are considered an essential part of the iconic Paiwan sounding mode.

As represented in historical documents and current cultural discourses, Paiwan nose flutes have always been closely identified with high social status in traditional Paiwan society. Several Paiwan flautists recalled that only noble males were allowed to play the nose flutes in the past. Gilegilau Paqalius points out that Paiwan people have also played nose flutes to send comfort when someone passes away, as well as on festive occasions such as harvest festivals (masalut) and weddings (personal communication, 8 December 2016).

On the other hand, mouth flutes (pakulalu) are mostly available to commoners for playing. The single-pipe mouth flute is called pakulalu (Figure 1). The number of finger holes can vary from three to six, depending on the region or community the player hails from. Another version of the double-pipe flute is called palinged, which is found in the northern Paiwan area and can be played interchangeably with either the nose or mouth. It has five finger holes with an inclined cork-plugged blowhole (pinuljupetj), which produces a louder, brighter, and more penetrating timbre than the circular blowhole (Figure 2).[7]

Both instruments are used mostly in courtship and for expressing individual emotion (Hu et al. 2001:14–15; Chou 2013:55). Historical information about the nose and mouth flutes is based on depictions and descriptions from the eighteenth century, including those from the Qing dynasty’s expansionism (1683–1895) and Japanese colonization (1895–1945). For example, Qing court officer Liu shi-qi's (六十七) Illustrations of Taiwan’s Savage Villages (Fanshe caifeng tukao 番社采風圖考) (1744) and Chen Bishen’s (陳必琛) Illustrations of Savage Customs (Fansutu 番俗圖) provides descriptions and images of nose flutes. These Chinese travel accounts document the nose flutes and their relation to courtship, as well as how nose flute playing was an integral part of their celebrations.[8]




As several flautists recalled, a young man typically played his flutes outside the house of the young woman he wished to court. The young woman would know who was playing and be moved by the music. Many of Paiwan flautists point out that there were no fixed repertoires for Paiwan flutes playing in the past.[9] For instance, the player Rhemaliz Tuvelelem (Chiang Chung-Hsin 蔣忠信) recalled that he learned by listening to how other elders (their “teachers”) played, emulating their patterns, and asking them for feedback (Nian 1996:43). Likewise, Gilegilau Paqalius emphasizes that the flute playing is all “about the individual’s own imagination” (kininemenema); one can always emulate or add phrasings and patterns from other people’s playing. As such, the music is presented in a solo improvised form that includes highly recognizable personal characteristics, patterns, or ornamentation. Because of these characteristics, Paiwan flute playing (both nose and mouth flutes) is often associated with the reminiscence of individual memory or love stories.

It is evident that the nose and mouth flutes were not exclusively Paiwan instruments. Previous Japanese literature has stated that the nose flute was used by several Indigenous groups, including the Paiwan, the Rukai, the Amis, and the Tsou.[10] For example, Kurosawa Takatomo’s musical investigation of 1943 collected numerous repertoires and documented the use of the nose flutes among the Tsou, the Paiwan, and the Rukai.[11] However, while the Rukai and the Paiwan are closely connected historically, geographically, and culturally, prevalent cultural discourses in Taiwan today rarely address thoughtful sorrow or the sense of sadness as the core component of the Rukai aesthetic.[12]

Successive settler’s colonial governments successively impact the Austronesians culturally and economically.[13] Many layers of transformations led to the gradual decline in the number of the Paiwan flute players in the twentieth century: the assimilationist policies; rural-urban migration; technological and economic innovations; political influences; and the dissolution of pre-colonial belief. In the 1950s, the KMT government carried out the Mountain People’s Life Improvement Movement (Shandi shenghuo gaijin yundong 山地生活改進運動), in which the government enforced policies to Sinicize Indigenous peoples, notably formulating Mandarin Chinese as the national language.[14] These assimilation policies were part of the KMT’s purpose of “making the mountains like the plains,” which discriminated against Indigenous customs and cultures. Another transformation in the 1950s and 1960s was the impact of Christianity. Today, the majority of Paiwan people are Christian, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, and churches have been a crucial locus for educational institutions and local affairs (Tan 2003:190).[15] In the early 1950s, many Paiwan people have started to convert to Christianity due to the Japanese colonial-era restriction on traditional shamanism and some local customs.[16] The churches likewise actively discouraged shamanistic beliefs and practices. Due to the impact of Christianity, many local customs have been reshaped by Christian churches, including the existing folksongs that are incorporated into hymns sung at local churches (Tan 2012:27).

Given the endangered state of Paiwan flutes, practitioners in contemporary Taiwan have gradually loosened the traditional gender and class restrictions on the instruments.[17] For example, as the first female Paiwan flautist, Sauniaw Tjuveljevelj, who is designated as a preserver of Paiwan flutes in Pingtung County in 2008, broke through the gender restrictions and dedicated herself to the transmission of Paiwan flutes in public schools. This transformation is evident in the increasing number of young female learners (Tseng 2012:93). However, the notion that the nose and mouth flutes are exclusively the symbol of the Paiwan was not prominent in the public sphere until a series of activities and discourses in the 1990s. In the following section, I will examine the process of how the sounds of the instruments have been aestheticized into a voice that evokes a sense of loss, love, and thoughtful sorrow, and how these aesthetic components have become a symbol of the Paiwan.


Institutionalization and Heritage-making

The concepts of institutionalization and heritage-making provide a useful analytical framework to examine how large-scale investigations and publications reshape the relationship between the instruments and a particular aesthetic experience, thus establishing the uniqueness of Indigeneity and cultural values. In discussions of the institutionalization of music, the majority of ethnographies have paid attention to the ways in which music institutions reshape local music practices, such as music schools and academies (Hill 2005; Keegan-Phipps 2007). However, the forms of institutional-ization are not limited to music institutions. In his analysis of Hakka music in Taiwan, Hsu Hsin-Wen defines institutionalization as the organizational processes through which “particular concepts and practices are selected, adapted, and legitimized as normative categories and structures, integrated and managed in existing or emerging social systems, and maintained or transformed through social actors’ performances and interactions” (Hsu 2014:21). As Kirshenblatt-Gimblett refers to heritage-making as a “value added industry,” the process of institutionalization is crucial in shaping how music and musical practices are classified, categorized, conceptualized, standardized, and refashioned in contemporary time (1995).

The institutionalization of Paiwan flutes also involves a process in which the state and the Taiwanese society have gradually come to regard Paiwan flutes as a legitimate cultural heritage. The Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (Wenhua zichan baocunfa 文化資產保存法, hereafter referred to as CHPA) promulgated by Taiwan’s government in 1982 introduced the state’s intervention in the investigation and preservation of local “traditional arts.” The legislation of CHPA first focused on “National arts” (Minzu yishu 民族藝術) and “Folk customs and related artifacts” (Minsu ji youguan wenwu 民俗及有關文物). Similar to Korean and Japanese models of supporting “holders” of appointed cultural heritage (Howard 2012:13), CHPA entrusted the MOE (Ministry of Education) as the central authority agency in charge of protecting traditional performing arts and subsidizing the protection of traditional artists and the honoring of outstanding ones as Important Traditional Artists (Zhongyao minzu yishi 重要民族藝師) (Wang 2012:165). Taiwan’s Council for Cultural Affairs (hereafter referred to as “CCA”) also made parallel efforts, sponsoring folk arts festivals and concerts (ibid.). However, much emphasis of CHPA during this period was put on Han Chinese culture and arts (Lin 2018:155), as the legacy of the Movement of Chinese Cultural Renaissance (Zhonghua wenhua fuxing yundong 中華文化復興運動) continued to affect cultural policies during the 1970s and the early 1980s.[18]

With the ascendant democratization of Taiwan in the mid-1980s, the lifting of martial law in 1987 marked a radical change over the Taiwanese discourses of national identity and cultural policies. In this socio-political atmosphere, discourses of new Taiwanese identity have often celebrated multiculturalism and incorporated the narratives of the re-discovery of Indigenous cultural heritage into the cultural formation of Taiwan as a nation distinct from the PRC (Chui 2009:1078). Throughout the 1990s, the CCA collaborated with domestic scholars to conduct a large-scale investigation of local folk arts. Among the musical forms preserved and promoted by the Taiwanese government, Paiwan nose and mouth flutes arguably stand out as one of the most supported Indigenous arts. In this investigation, Paiwan flutes were listed as part of the Folk Arts Preservation and Transmission Project (Minjian yishu baocun chuanxi jihua, 民間藝術保存傳習計畫), and Paiwan musicians were listed as human sources.

The first comprehensive revision of CHPA in 2005 introduced the major change in local government’s approach to cultural heritage. One of the major transformations is the change of terms; the term Ethnic/National Arts, which refers to “arts unique to an ethnic group or a locale,” was replaced by Traditional Arts (Chuantong yishu 傳統藝術), which means “traditional crafts and skills descended from different ethnic groups and locales, which include traditional arts and crafts, and/or performing arts.” Here the use of “different ethnic groups and locales” in the 2005 version reflects the state’s intention to shift from the Han-centric model to a multi-ethnic model. This can be illustrated by the fact that several Indigenous cultural and art forms have been designated as “Traditional Arts” and “Folk customs and related artifacts” since then.[19]

In addition, the CHPA has also established a local framework in which registration and declaration of heritage are initiated from municipal level to the central government level (Tseng 2015:77). The CCA has replaced the MOE as the central government agency responsible for traditional arts, and municipal (county/city) governments “have responsibility for initiating the review, registration and declaration of traditional arts” (Wang 2012:166). In particular, the Pingtung County government registered “Paiwan nose flutes and mouth flutes” as a local significant cultural heritage in 2008.[20]

Based on the 2005 revision, the CCA has started registering “National Important Traditional Arts” since 2009. At the national level, the CCA registered Paiwan flutes as a “National Important Traditional Art,” declaring Pairang Pavavalung and Gilegilau Paqalius (see Figure 3) as preservers (baocunzhe 保存者) of the Traditional Art in 2011.[21] The transmission of National Important Traditional Arts has been implemented through the Program of Preservation and Transmission for National Important Traditional Arts (Zhongyao chuantong yishu baocunzhe ji baocuntuanti chuanxi jihua 重要傳統藝術保存者暨保存團體傳習計畫), in which selected master artists and apprentices are considered “cultural bearers” who are responsible for transmitting related forms of knowledge and techniques in a master-apprentice model.

More recently, the 2016 revision of CHPA, which is the widest in revision range since the lawmaking in 1982, has also followed the UNESCO’s logic that divides cultural heritage into “tangible” and “intangible.” The Paiwan flutes are registered as a “Traditional Performing Art” under the category of Intangible Cultural Heritage.[22] The 2016 revision also introduced a specific regulation for Indigenous cultural heritage. Thus, “Regulations of Treatment of Cultural Heritage of Indigenous Peoples” (Yuanzhuminzu wenhuazichan chulibanfa 原住民族文化資產處理辦法) was made effective on July 18, 2017.[23]

This change further elaborates the particularity of Indigenous cultural heritage and thus opens up a new criterion of registration and preservation of Indigenous cultural heritage. Despite such transformative change in recent years, this article will mainly focus on the institutionalization process before the 2016 revision and changes are made.


The Politics of Musical Instruments

A growing body of scholarship on instruments has argued that an instrument is not merely an object or a “finished” product of crafting, but a crucial site that entails related knowledge, practices, embodiment, and sensory memory (Qureshi 2000; Wong 2012). New approaches to instruments also include those that emphasize the agency of instruments as social actors (Dawe 2003; Bates 2012; Roda 2015), and those that adopt the notion of craftsmanship to examine the interconnectedness of the ideological, aesthetic, and technical aspects (Jakovljevic 2012; Tucker 2016). This trend calls for a new organology that replaces the influential Hornbostel-Sachs model (defined by categorization sound-making properties) with “an ethnographically motivated examination of a specific musical instrument in a particular social context” (Sonevytsky 2008:103). While the early scholarship on Taiwan’s Indigenous instruments mostly adopted Hornbostel-Sachs model of instrument classification (Lenherr 1967; Lu 1982; Hsu 1994), I argue that the politics of musical instruments specifically offers an analytical lens to examine the multiple frames of stereotyping and heritage-making enterprises.

Instruments may serve as powerful material objects to symbolize ethnicities and places where identities are referenced, and may also be usefully conceived as social beings that were produced and maintained in webs of social relations and contested meanings (Wong 2012:36; Rancier 2014; Ragheb 2017). In his article on Uyghur rawap in modern China, Wong Chuen-Fung argues that the “conspicuous appearances of minority musical instruments” and “the sonic imaginaries invoked” for the Han Chinese audience have provided the state with “useful tools to stereotype minority cultures” (2012:37). Similarly, Regula Qureshi (2000) analyzes how the discursive representations of the Indian bowed lute sarangi have endowed the instrument with associations of sadness, loss, and mourning.[24] In her study of “the social life” of the accordion, Maria Sonevytsky (2008) considers the musical instrument an actor in the making of musical meaning, interrogating how instrumentalists consciously manipulate stylistically racialized or classed “codes” to heighten musical affect. All these case studies suggest a framework to examine discourses, practices, and representations surrounding the physical body and sonic imaginaries of the instruments, the ideas about its music, and the musicians.[25] While the process of institutionalization often reinforces certain affective and aesthetic values to the instruments, this article highlights the importance of gaining a more solid grasp of the relationship between musical sound and affective experience, as well as how the affective and aesthetic experiences are defined through a series of discourses and social practices.


Representing the Paiwan Art  

Since the 1990s, a growing number of Taiwanese scholarly works and media publications have paid attention to Indigenous arts, which provided an effective discursive space to enunciate the ideal aesthetic and practices of Indigenous culture and arts. These practices and publications are not simply the narratives or documentation resulting from the investigations. Rather, they played a significant role in articulating the relationship among the instruments, related aesthetic experiences, and an “ideal Paiwan sound” through media activities and commentaries.

Newly emerged Indigenous journals such as Taiwan Indigenous Voices Bimonthly address critical issues in Indigenous culture and arts.[26] Established in 1993, Taiwan Indigenous Voices Bimonthly is arguably the first journal dedicated to Indigenous culture. Its initial goal was to create a discursive forum for promoting the Indigenous cultural movement, advocating public engagement by Indigenous peoples, and “awakening” the Indigenous subjective consciousness. What is important about Taiwan Indigenous Voices Bimonthly is that it has included articles and local newspapers about Indigenous peoples, which not only documented musical activities (especially government-sponsored ones) in Indigenous communities, but also furthered the understanding of Indigenous music from 1993 to 2000.

As reported in these local newspapers, numerous initiatives of Indigenous cultural activities around the middle of the 1990s emphasized themes of “tradition,” “transmission,” and “transition.” Many artists at that time interpreted “tradition” or the ancestral past through artistic creations, by means of ceramics, weaving, or carving, but many more interpreted it through music. One of the indications of this intense attention was the sudden increase in the presence of Indigenous crafts and studios and clubs related to their production and marketing, and print media has increasingly covered aspects of Indigenous musical performances and workshops since 1993 (Hsieh 2004:145).

Among the notable activities on the national scale to promote Indigenous culture in the middle of the 1990s, there was a series of forums on Indigenous crafts, arts, and culture named “The Transmission and Development of Taiwan’s Indigenous Culture and Arts” (Taiwan yuanzhumin wenhua yishu chuancheng yu fazhan 台灣原住民文化藝術傳承與發展). This series of forums, hosted by Taiwan Indigenous Voices Bimonthly in partnership with CCA in 1995, included more than twenty regional forums throughout Taiwan. The series of forums can thereby be regarded as a crucial initiation of musical activities for Indigenous peoples to articulate their “traditions” and highlight their ethnic identity. For instance, more than two hundred Indigenous folk artists in a variety of fields participated in this series of forums.[27] Collectively, these forums emphasized the maintenance of pre-colonial beliefs and practices that are markedly different from those with the impact of modernizing forces attached to commodification and ethnic tourism (CCA 1996:16). These forums and activities constituted a crucial space to stimulate discussions of Indigenous crafts and arts and facilitate the dissemination of Indigenous music and instruments, including instrument-making and playing.[28]

While these emerging activities were intended to highlight the characteristics of particular Indigenous groups, there was an increase in the number of the people learning Indigenous instruments, and some instruments have gradually become representative of particular Indigenous groups. For instance, the Atayal have taught mouth-harps (lubuw), the Bunun have specialized in bow harps (latuk), and the Paiwan have focused on the nose and mouth flutes (Lu 2003). This instrument-ethnicity connection has become a common way of conceptualizing the musical characteristic of each Indigenous group, which is clearly reflected in Hsu Chang-Hui’s article about Indigenous music in 1994 (Hsu 1994:13). In his article, Hsu provided a figure featuring the musical characteristic of each Indigenous group (Figure 4). This representation resonates with the concept of “museum-in-a-book/recording” (Bohlman 1991:145; Chen 2007:78), in which scholars’ writing and recordings present the specific musical aspects of each Indigenous group as the museum specimens.

As the activities mentioned above stimulated the debates about Indigenous music, a number of articles in Taiwan Indigenous Voices Bimonthly emphasized the connection between Indigenous arts, literary compositions, mythologies, and rituals and ceremonies. For instance, Volume 13 of Taiwan Indigenous Voices Bimonthly (1996) specifically compiled articles about Paiwan mythologies, songs and meanings for maljeveq (five-year ceremonies) in the Paiwan Kulalau community, Paiwan flutes, and the aesthetic of Paiwan arts. Domestic scholars have collaborated with Indigenous cultural groups and/or individual artists to conduct investigations, document, and transcribe Indigenous music. According to these articles, the nose and mouth flutes present the unique style and aesthetics of the Paiwan group. The Paiwan artist Etan Pavavalung points out in his article that the carving patterns on Paiwan sculptures or flutes are related to various Paiwan myths and have their own cultural significance. The Paiwan flute artist Sauniaw Tjuveljevelj also notes that the iconic “double-pipe” structure of Paiwan flutes symbolizes the close relationship among relatives portrayed in Paiwan myths (milimilingan) (Tjuveljevelj 2000). A number of players likewise drew a strong link between the instrument’s structure and Paiwan myths. For example, Etan Pavavalung’s documentary shows that the sound of double-pipe flutes is conceived to be a metaphor of two Paiwan brothers chanting in Paiwan myths. This metaphor is reflected in the title of Pairang Pavavalung’s 2011 album “Chuanchang ailian de xiongdi” [Brothers Who Sing of Love and Longing]. In short, Paiwan flutes become an assemblage that enables the ideas within Paiwan myths, aesthetic values, and musical practices to be (re)articulated in various cultural discourses and activities.

Most Paiwan people then considered the nose and mouth flutes and its music as “ancient” and “unique.” Because flute playing has often been isolated from other Paiwan song-and-dance activities, it became a symbol of the best of Paiwan’s own music and a way to counteract influences from Han and pop music imported from the West.



The CCA similarly contributed to this wave of Indigenization, reformulated its annual Culture and Arts Festival (Wenyiji 文藝季) into a Nationwide Culture and Art Festival (Quanguo wenyiji 全國文藝季) in 1994 (Wang 2012).[29]

At the Nationwide Culture and Art Festival, a series of activities on Paiwan arts, folklore, and culture was held in Pingtung County in 1997 entitled “Paiwan civilization” (Paiwan wenming 排灣文明), including song-and-dance performances, folkloric activities, conferences, exhibitions, and workshops (Tsai 1997). The participants included prominent cultural workers, elders, artists, intellectuals, and scholars in various fields of Paiwan arts and cultural knowledge. In the section on Paiwan music, Vuluk Palimdai (Lai Chao-Tsai 賴朝財), who is a church-trained Paiwan pastor and a Paiwan flute player, advocated for the government and cultural workers to examine the specific (perhaps representative) characteristics of Paiwan songs and instrumental music, because “such an examination may reduce the misunderstanding of Paiwan musical style that contemporary musical productions and activities may have imposed on the younger generation.”[30]

Lamenting how much things have changed since the days of the ancestors, his brief examination on Paiwan music emphasizes the “uncontaminated” music as representative of essentialized Paiwan identities to celebrate the richness of Paiwan culture. In portraying the history of Paiwan culture as one of decay, these Indigenous intellectuals and practitioners furthered the perception that the most important fact about Indigenous peoples in that era is their overall disenfranchisement, including the loss of their languages, various cultural expressions, and their core aesthetic values. Therefore, academic investigations and publications on Indigenous music provided an effective voice for Indigenous actors to legitimize and promote the recognition of their music and related aesthetics.


Folk Art Preservation

From 1995 to 2003, CCA replaced the Ministry of Education (MOE) as the state agency with the leading responsibility to preserve and promote Taiwan’s Traditional Arts, initiating the first full-fledged Folk Arts Preservation and Training Program.[31] The National Center for Traditional Arts (NCFTA) is a subsidiary body under the CCA. Unsurprisingly, the state has privileged some markers of group identity over others, paying attention to those “representative” or “authentic” arts of particular Indigenous groups for funding. In 2000, 282 Taiwan’s Traditional Arts groups applied to the government for a subsidy from the NCFTA, and only nine Indigenous arts groups gained a subsidy.[32] Among the projects in Folk Arts Preservation and Training Program, Paiwan flutes and Atayal mouth-harp (lubuw) stood out as the best government-supported Indigenous arts due to its uniqueness. Such ideology normally emphasized the connection between an instrument and an Indigenous group. They also used the designation of folk artists to recognize those who taught and advocated for Indigenous instruments, as well as promoting the instruments as the "valuable traditions" worth learning by the people of each particular Indigenous group.

The CCA commissioned anthropologist Hu Tai-Li of Academia Sinica (zhongyang yanjiu yuan 中央研究院) to carry out a large-scale investigation and the Paiwan Nose and Mouth Flutes Preservation Project.[33] The findings were later published (Hu, Chien, and Lai 2001; Hu 2002), and released as a CD and the documentary entitled Sounds of Love and Sorrow. This state-funded investigation and preservation project can be regarded as the precursor of the 2011 designation of National Important Traditional Arts.



Hu led a research team to carry out the first in-depth collection and documentation of the history of Paiwan flutes musicians in Pingtung County. Thirty Paiwan musicians were interviewed, along with the audio-visual documentation of their music, the collection of their life histories, and mythologies of the instruments. This was the first comprehensive documentation and classification of the structure, techniques, styles, performing occasions, and myths of Paiwan flutes. Its music and performers gained public attention through books, the CD, and the documentary.

In these sources, Hu notes that several Paiwan flautists described the sounds of lalingedan and pakulalu as similar to weeping and leading to the strong emotion of talimuzav (translated as “thoughtful sorrow” in English, ai si 哀思 in Chinese). According to one of the flautists, Tsegav Talulaiats (Li Cheng 李正), the term talimuzav contains the meaning of “yearning for past things” (kinemeneme a varhung; see Hu et al. 2001:74). From an etymological perspective, Hu suggests that the Paiwan emotion of thoughtful sorrow, existing in and starting from the “chest” (varhung), is connected with love and is prevalent in Paiwan culture. She further adds that many of her Paiwan informants regarded this particular weeping-like sound as being beautiful (samiring). Distinguished from the terms nanguaq or burai that are used in speaking about general beauty,[34] she claims that samiring refers to “unusual beauty with everlasting value” and also “contains the meaning of sorrow, loneliness, surprise and lingering” (2005:165).[35] The aesthetic experience of samiring connects people to the ancestral past, creating a kind of wistful feeling, which is expressed by Hu as “thoughtful sorrow” (ibid).

With this being the case, Hu discursively placed “thoughtful sorrow” as the central component of the Paiwan aesthetic (Hu 2005:155).[36] Her view on this aesthetic value is reflected in the documentary Sounds of Love and Sorrow. The film consists mainly of four Paiwan flautists’ reminiscent narratives and dialogs about their love and sorrowful stories in the past, and the sound of the flutes is mixed with the narratives and transitions between stories.[37] Hu points out this type of sonic character in the CD booklet as follows:


The sound of the flute was the sound of weeping, and it evokes a sense of sorrow and loss. When Paiwan people hear the sound of the flute, memories and emotions come flooding in, and they recall past loves, lost relatives and former homes…


Hu Tai-Li, Sounds of Love and Sorrow


In her publication on the interpretation of the aesthetic of Paiwan flutes (2002), Hu further connected talimuzav to various cultural aspects of the Paiwan: motifs of antique glass beads and the iaqu sung in maljeveq (five-year ceremonies).[38] Studies on Paiwan material culture have considered antique glass beads an important symbol that preserved cultural knowledge; different names, colors, and patterns of beads are deemed as meaningful family heirlooms and significant cultural symbols to recall cultural memory and oral history (Chen 2015:167).[39] Based on Hu’s observation, Paiwan people consider those glass beads that “look old” to be beautiful (Hu 2002:80). In a similar vein, iaqu, the tune that normally used for maljeveq to commemorate ancestors, features a strong attachment to the ancestors and things they left behind by which they are remembered (ibid). All of these forms, in Hu’s view, connect the Paiwan people to their ancestral past, creating a kind of wistful feeling that is driven by the aesthetic experience of talimuzav.

From the perspective of sound, Hu points out that Paiwan myth storytelling (milimilingan) is typically performed in a weeping-like tone that resembles funeral laments (cemangit), and Paiwan flutes have traditionally been used as accompaniment to both vocal genres rather than for folk songs in general (Hu 2002:72). Such an effort to link instruments, mythologies, and aesthetic conceptualizations of sounds resonates with Steven Feld’s analysis of the Kaluli’s integrated relationship to weeping, songs, local mythology about birds, and the sounding environment of the rainforest and waterfalls (Feld 2012 [1982]).[40] Feld illustrates how the Kaluli expressive modalities of weeping and songs are “culturally constituted by performance codes that both actively communicate deeply felt sentiments and reconfirm mythic principles” (ibid.:14). While it is clear that Hu’s work is inspired by Feld in terms of how the sounds constitute socially meaningful expressions (ibid:88), we should ask how the affective experience became a norm and have been transformed/translated into a contemporary concept.


Affective and Aesthetic Ideology

In many cases, the discourse and practices of folklore illustrate the transformation of Indigenous culture by heightening certain aesthetic expression for the service of folklorists. This is evident when the government’s Folk Art Projects attempt to “elevate” local musical practices to the so-called “Folk Arts.” Later scholars and the government’s investigative reports also discursively framed Hu as an early representative of scholarship on Paiwan flutes and as a scholar who advocated for the aesthetic values of Indigenous arts in Taiwan (Tseng 2008; Huang 2011; Tseng 2012, 2015). In this regard, these early ethnographic writing and documentary film may lead to a partial aestheticization of both the term talimuzav and the people and experiences that it seeks to represent. I argue that the music investigations and publications since the 1990s have reinforced the association between the flutes’ musical image and the Paiwan’s aesthetic of particular sadness, loss, and sorrow.

As music emotives can be claimed to define an “affectual ethnic self” (Stokes 2017:25), it is important to examine how the narratives of affect are internalized by members of the Indigenous group as markers of their own identity. Chen Chun-Bin points out that an “imposed habitus” has been exhibited among Taiwan’s Indigenous peoples when Indigenous practitioners represent themselves as a passionate and “happy-go-lucky ethnic group” (2007:55). Chen considers this “imposed habitus” as a driven force that performs a function in “facilitating the absorption of elements brought by outside forces” and in “reshaping the Indigenous musical practices” through the dissemination of early Indigenous tourist song-and-dance performance (ibid).[41] This process of inculcating imposed habitus can be regarded as a way non-Indigenous discourse has molded Indigenous perceptions of themselves. Similarly, the impression of thoughtful sorrow as the symbol of the Paiwan group can be reinforced via the dissemination of recordings, documentary films, and publications.

Instead of arguing that the “thoughtful sorrow” did not exist in the cultural expression of the Paiwan, my point here is that documentation and publication play a crucial role in promoting both public and community knowledge and awareness of the significance of a music genre or an instrument.[42] I am convinced that Hu’s work is central in the dissemination of the idea that talimuzav is the core aesthetic value of Paiwan flutes to be promoted. Paiwan people, likewise, may have consciously incorporated the discourse from these scholarly publications to legitimatize what they practice. This situation is reminiscent of the case among the Uyghur in northwestern China, in which becoming a minority stereotype “is not only about being subservient”; it is also about “adopting a subaltern subjectivity with social practices and aesthetic codes that mediate among traditional practice, state-framed modernity, and a sense of minority belonging” (Wong 2012:48).

One of the reasons that Paiwan flute music is believed to be the aestheticized sonic image of sadness and sorrow is its particular techniques. Indeed, several Paiwan flautists’ playing featured a particularly intense vibrato (migereger) and a smooth glissando produced by sliding the fingers off or onto the holes, both of which are known as the distinct sonic profile of the Paiwan.[43] In my conversation with Gilegilau Paqalius, he noted that such techniques of intense vibrato and glissando feature an emphasis on the “weeping-like sounds” (qaung). In the documentary Brothers Who Sing of Love and Longing (2011), Peleng Rupunayan (Pairang Pavavalung’s wife) points out that the favored sound of the flute that particularly “makes you fall in love with it” is called qatarengeran, which is a sliding-like stylized tone. Peleng further elaborated that they also sing or hum like qatarengeran, and “it expresses a kind of longing” (qemauliyan). Likewise, Pairang Pavavalung also emphasizes the importance of the stylized sliding technique to make the flute’s sound beautiful (Tseng 2015:88).

However, according to my personal communication with Paiwan music scholar Chou Ming-Chieh (周明傑), these particular techniques are just the ways in which those players expressed themselves naturally.[44] Taking a more critical stance, Chou expressed the concern that placing “thoughtful sorrow” as the core aesthetic value of the flutes’ sound may convey a misleading message that all the Paiwan musicking is immersed in such a sorrowful emotion all of the time. Paiwan flute playing, in his opinion, typically does not express certain kinds of emotion as the content. Rather, he considers it an “ambience” that evokes listeners’ own feelings at the moment (Interview, Pingtung, 10 August 2017).  In his dissertation “Tradition and Transition: A Research on the Vocal Music of Paiwan” (2013), Chou did not specifically address talimuzav as the central component of Paiwan musical aesthetic. Rather, he briefly introduced Paiwan flute playing as “a form of self-expression that resembles a metaphor of one’s mind” (ibid.).

In examining the relationship between Paiwan flutes and affect I am attempting to highlight several points. First, Chou’s review resonates with David J. Elliot’s notion that human audition is “phenomenally fluid,” affecting the listener’s aesthetic experience (Elliot 2000:85-86). Elliot’s notion suggests that there are many layers of personal and social meaning “to ‘locate’, apprehend, construct, and feel emotions about in musical work” (ibid). Nian Siou-Ling (年秀玲), a Paiwan member who was the assistant for the 1995 Preservation Project of Paiwan flutes, states that the Paiwan flautist Rhemaliz Tuvlelem always played identical or similar tunes on various occasions, including courtship and funerals (Nian 1996:44).[45] While it is clear that the players used to play their habitual tunes on various occasions, what evokes certain affects and emotions, in this case, relies on individual attachments to memories of particular sound patterns, or appreciations of personal response to the musical expression of emotions they cognize (Elliot 2000:86).

Second, musicians have the agency to “locate entire emotional spectrums in musical meaning” (Gill 2017:7). According to Pairang Pavavalung, the Paiwan flute playing can be inspired by various emotions and feelings, including joy, sorrow, and gratitude. He suggests that the musical emotion actually relies on the individual’s interpretation and presentation at that moment (Tseng 2015:81). In this regard, to over-emphasize “sorrow” as the core affective experience of the Paiwan may to some extent essentialize the Paiwan people as an emotional other in contrast to other groups. 

One should also note that to flatten the term talimuzav by translating it as “thoughtful sorrow” may lead to a generalization that erases the multivalent nature of affect. In her study of Turkish classical musicians, Denise Gill points out that Turkish classical musicians “have multiple names and terms for ‘melancholy’” (2017:190). Melancholy, Gill argues, “surfaces as an affective practice that is sustained in forms of joy and happiness” in the larger emotional fabric of musicians’ experiences (ibid). This resonates with what Martin Stokes called the “non-translatability” of affective ambivalence (2017:25), through which he addresses the inability to coin an appropriately translated word for a certain affective experience. When publications and media production have inculcated people with the expectation to recognize “thoughtful sorrow” as an affective Paiwan aesthetic, we need to take into account such affective ambivalence and how partial translation may result in a different understanding of affective dimension of musical identity.


Contemporary Concept of Paiwan Flutes

Nowadays, discourses about the sorrowfulness of Paiwan flutes are indeed pervasive. However, academic investigative reports and publications on lalingedan and pakulalu in Taiwan before the 2000s show that the sorrowful titles were not widely adopted as a part of the referencing experience by most audio recordings and publications. These song titles or liner notes to some extent manifest certain modes of classifying Paiwan music and artists. Most of the writings and recordings before the 2000s classified Indigenous music by its social function or musicological characteristics of homophonic, harmonic, and polyphonic textures.[46] This followed the legacy of the classification from early Japanese and Han ethnomusicologists who classified songs and added titles for research consistency.

For example, the album Polyphonies Vocales Des Aborigènes De Taiwan [Vocal Polyphonies of Taiwanese Indigenous Peoples], released in 1989 by the Chinese Folk Arts Foundation and produced by Hsu Chang-Hui, includes two songs featuring

Paiwan singing with the accompaniment of a double-pipe mouth flute played by Pairang Pavavalung.[47]  

These two tracks were both labeled “Chant de séduction” [Song of seduction] based on their social function, i.e., courtship. Later, the 1994 album The Songs of the Paiwan Tribe, The Music Of Aborigines On Taiwan Island, Vol. 7, recorded and produced by ethnomusicologist Wu Rung-Shun as part of a set of eight CDs featuring music of eight different Indigenous groups, included one track played by Pairang Pavavalung titled “Shuangguan zhuzhi zongdi duzou” (雙管竹製縱笛獨奏) [“Double-pipe vertical flute solo”]. Similarly, the book Bentu yinyue de chuanchang yu xinshang [The Transmission and Appreciation of Native Music], published by the National Traditional Arts Center in 2000, compiled chapters and recordings of representative “traditional” Han and Indigenous music in Taiwan. In the section featuring Paiwan music, one track (played by Camak Paqalius) is titled “Nose flute solo.” Another example can be seen in Hu’s book and CD Paiwanzu de bidi yu koudi [Paiwan Nose flutes and Mouth Flutes] published in 2001, in which all twenty tracks were labeled based on the structure of the instruments used (e.g., “The song of double-pipe nose flute”). In short, the music of Paiwan flutes was rarely labeled or titled to convey a sense of sorrow, loss, or sadness before the release of Hu’s work. The notion of “thoughtful sorrow” had perhaps not been prioritized as an essential component of the Paiwan aesthetic in investigators’ and scholars’ classification framework.[48]  



However, there has been an upsurge in song titles that are associated with sadness, love, or sorrow in albums since the 2000s, despite the fact that many tracks share similar melodic patterns to earlier ones. A number of CD liner notes often portrayed the “sorrowful sound” as the sonic profile of Paiwan flutes. The album Zuyun yueyan: shibanwu shang de bidi [The Nose Flute on the Slate House], issued in 2002, included one track featuring the nose flute played by Rhemaliz Tuvlelem named “Jimo zhige” (寂寞之歌) [“The Song of Loneliness”]. Interestingly, a highly similar rendition by Rhemaliz can be heard in Hu’s 2001 CD even though it is labeled “Twin-pipe nose flute performed by Rhemaliz.” In the national preservation and transmission project of Paiwan flutes since 2011, the two master artists Pairang Pavavalung and Gilegilau Paqalius have included several transmission repertoires whose titles express loss, love, and sorrow. Many of these repertoires are included in Pairang Pavavalung’s album Chuanchang ailian de xiongdi [Brothers Who Sing of Love and Longing]. All of its eleven CD tracks have named titles, and many of them express a sense of loss, love, or sorrow.[49] It is worth noting that a number of the songs in his album are actually Paiwan folk tunes originally named with Paiwan non-lexical syllables such as “quljimai” and “qai-lja-ljai,” but added the Chinese and English translated titles that explicitly express those emotions. These Chinese and English titles for the CD tracks can be regarded as a consequence of the process of aestheticization. A look at some titles gives a sense of the prevalence of these themes:


Quljimai” (“As Joyous as a Blooming Flower,” 歡悅像盛開的花)

Qai-lja-ljai” (“Admiring the Beauty of Your Countenance,” 戀慕你的容顏你的美麗)

—Pairang Pavavalung


Masadjusudju a lalingedan” (“Loving the Paiwan Flutes,” 戀慕排灣笛)

—Sauniaw Tjuveljevelj


Much institutionalization is also about reformulating and controlling aesthetics. An upsurge in new musical productions, marketing materials (flyers, concert programs, social media), and publications uses this new emblem to romanticize, localize, and historicize the image of Paiwan music. Several contemporary Indigenous artists or music groups, ranging from folk troupes to pop bands, describe the sound of nose and mouth flutes as weeping, using the image of flutes to symbolize the Paiwan people and arouse a sense of longing for their ancestral past. Since the musical image has resonated well with icons of weeping and longing, performers have used the instruments to portray the feeling of “sadness” and “antiquity.” One of the most prominent examples of this is evident in a series of events and productions organized around the main theme of the snake. For instance, the Bureau of Cultural Heritage issued a picture book of Paiwan nose flute Minasi (Breathing out of two nostrils) in 2017. Through this picture book, the Bureau of Cultural Heritage aimed to create a new emblem for Paiwan flutes so that general Taiwanese readers are exposed to the origin stories and aesthetic of Paiwan flutes. It is worth noting that the book constantly emphasizes the “sorrowful tune” as the stylized characteristic of Paiwan flutes.[50] The aestheticization of Paiwan flutes has therefore been recontextualized into the new generation through a series of transmission and promotion projects, and the music of Paiwan flutes has been publicized as a representative form of Paiwan art worth learning by the Paiwan people and appreciated by the general audience.



In conclusion, music investigations and publications contribute to institutionalization and heritage-making. From systematic collection and documentation to living persons’ musical knowledge and practices, these music-related publications, activities, and practices are not separate. Rather, I suggest that these investigations and publications did more than neutrally document; they reconstructed partially lost performance genres, promoted certain aesthetic values as a symbol of a particular ethnic group, and encouraged potential practitioners to return to what they had proposed as original forms (Howard 2014:138). Once a process of aestheticization and institutionalization has reinforced the impression of the instruments as a Paiwan symbol, Indigenous actors may incorporate the discourses from these scholarly publications to legitimatize what they practice, and adapt the instruments and music in various ways. In other words, they have participated in a feedback loop with academic publications and popular discourse, which in turn affect the way Indigenous musicians conceptualize their music. Through a close examination of the affective dimension of Indigenous Paiwan flutes, this article provides an alternative look at how institutionalization and heritage-making may further the aesthetic and affective ideology surrounding instruments.

[1] For this article I use the Hanyu pinyin system for Chinese terms. The Chinese place names in Taiwan are rendered based on common use (some are based on Wade–Giles system, some are Hanyu pinyin). Chinese names of authors writing in Chinese and residents of Taiwan are rendered in the Wade-Giles system, a more commonly used system in Taiwan. The Chinese names are given in customary style (surname first, given name second). Names of authors writing in English are spelled as in their publications. Paiwan-language terms are romanized using Paiwan romanization system enacted by Taiwan’s Ministry of Education and Council of Indigenous Peoples in 2005, but quotes from other texts may not conform to this Romanization system. Paiwan names are spelled as in other publications, or based on the person’s own spelling. However, some Indigenous peoples prefer to be addressed only by either their Indigenous names or Chinese names in publications or media. In this case, their other names (either Chinese or Indigenous) will not be provided in this article. For the sake of brevity, all the Chinese characters for Chinese titles of albums will be provided in the references cited.

[2] The Council of Cultural Affairs declared the master artists Pairang Pavavalung (Hsu Kun-Chung 許坤仲) and Gilegilau Paqalius (Hsieh Shui-Neng 謝水能) as preservers of Paiwan nose and mouth flutes.

[3] According to the 2018 census by the Taiwanese Ministry of the Interior.

[4] Today, the majority population in Taiwan is Han Chinese, who descended from multiple waves of immigrants from Mainland China and made up 95% of the total national population of 23 million in 2018.

[5] The Council of Indigenous Peoples lists: the Atayal, the Amis, the Saisiyat, the Sediq, the Thao, the Bunun, the Tsou, the Truku, the Sakizaya, the Kavalan, the Puyuma, the Rukai, the Paiwan, the Yami, the Hla'alua, and the Kanakanavu.

[6] This kind of snake is named “hundred-pace snake” because it is held that one can only take one hundred steps after being bitten before succumbing to its deadly venom (Cline 2014: 209-10).

[7] The Paiwan people are mainly divided into two sub-groups according to their original homelands rather than contemporary administrative areas. Those from the upper north in the region of Tavuvu mountain called themselves Ravar, while Vutsul is centered around Tjagalaus mountain, located near Taiwu Township.

[8] Yu Yong-He (郁永河) provided this account of native courtship in Pihai jiyou (裨海紀遊) (1697): “In marriage they have no go-betweens; when the girls are grown, their parents have them live separately in a hut. All the youths who wish to find a mate come along, playing their nose-flutes and mouth-organs…” (Teng 2004:179).

[9] According to my conversation with master artist Gilegilau Paqalius and Paiwan music scholar Chou Ming-Chieh (周明傑).

[10] Colonial Japanese musicologist Kurosawa Takatomo’s research documented the use of nose flutes among the Paiwan, the Rukai, and the Tsou. Joseph Lenherr points out that the nose flute (one holed pipe with one hole-less pipe) is typical of the Rukai where it corresponds to their polyphonic choir-style (1967:121). Joseph Lenherr was a missionary priest and also a visiting scholar at Academia Sinica in the early 1960s. The data for his article was derived primarily from his eight-month period of fieldwork in Taiwan in 1965 (Lenherr 1967:109).

[11] Numerous Japanese scholars documented Indigenous nose and mouth flutes, including anthropologist Ino Kanori (伊能嘉矩) and musicologists Tanabe Hisao (田邊尚雄), Takenaka Shigeo (竹中重雄), and Kurosawa Takatomo (黑澤隆朝) (Lu 1982:172; Hu et al. 2001:9; Wang 2008, 2018). It is worth noting that Kurosawa Takatomo’s wartime recordings (1943) include two tracks of nose flute playing by the Rukai people (Wang 2008).

[12] The Rukai are the second-largest Indigenous group in Pingtung County. Wang Ying-Fen notes that the nose flute has become the symbol of the Paiwan due to the dissemination of the documentary Sounds of Love and Sorrow (2000) produced by Academia Sinica fellow Hu Tai-Li (Wang 2008:185).

[13] These include the Dutch (1624-1662), Spaniards (1626-1624), Chinese (Koxinga rule and Qing court), Japanese (1895-1945), and Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party, hereafter KMT) governments.

[14] The KMT government used the term shanbao (山胞, mountain people) to refer to Indigenous peoples during this period.

[15] It is worth noting that many Paiwan flute players are practicing Christians, including Gilegilau Paqalius, Sauniaw Tuveljevelj, Vuluk Palimdai (Lai Chao-Tsai 賴朝財), and Gilegilau Lalangal (Chen Ming-Kuang 陳明光) (Tseng 2012).

[16] Like other Indigenous groups in Taiwan, the spread of Christianity among Paiwan communities also caused the impoverishment of palisi, which is the pre-Christian Paiwan shamanistic ritual. Palisi is ancestral “laws, customs” and “taboos, rituals” passed down from generation to generation (Tan 2003:192). For more details about how Christianity impacts on traditional Paiwan rituals, see Tan 2003.

[17] For example, Chen Tsai-Hsing (陳再興), a Paiwan educator who is also the principal of Sandi Elementary School (三地國小) in Pingtung County, particularly emphasized the need to “break through the gender restriction” in order to pass on the tradition of Paiwan flutes (Tseng 2012:93).

[18] The KMT government launched the Movement of Chinese Cultural Renaissance in 1967 to reinforce Chinese ethics and culture in an effort to prove they were the true guardians of Chinese culture.

[19] These include the designations of Bunun polyphonic singing pasibutbut in 2010, Paiwan lalingedan and pakulalu flutes in 2011, and Atayal speaking-singing lmuhuw in 2013.

[20] The county government continuously registered Legeai Tjaudada (Chin Hsien-Jen 金賢仁) and Camak Paqalius (Cheng Wei-Yeh 鄭尾葉) in 2009, Pairang Pavavalung and Gilegilau Paqalius in 2010, and Sauniaw Tjuveljevelj in 2011 as the preservers of Paiwan nose flutes and mouth flutes at county level.

[21] Based on the 2005 revision, the CCA has started registering “National Important Traditional Arts” since 2009. Paiwan flutes were registered as a “National Important Traditional Art” in 2011 due to the following reasons: (1) The instruments reflect the social organization, life style, musical characteristics, and the crafting art in traditional Paiwan society; (2) The music contains the cultural property of ethnic folk singing, which is considered valuable and endangered, and; (3) The nominated preservers are representative in the traditional arts and crafts (National Cultural Heritage Database Management System,, accessed 1 August 2018). The English translation is mine.

[22] Based on the 2016 revision of CHPA, “Intangible Cultural Heritage” can be further classified into five types: (1) Traditional Performing Arts (Chuantong biaoyan yishu 傳統表演藝術); (2) Traditional Craftsmanship (Chuantong gongyi 傳統工藝); (3) Oral Tradition and Expressions (Koushu chuantong 口述傳統); (4) Folklore (Minsu 民俗), and; (5) Traditional Knowledge and Practices (Chuantong zhishi yu shijian 傳統知識與實踐). Article 3 of CHPA defines “Traditional Performing Arts” as “a traditional art that is created in front of or presented to an audience by the artist to pass down through generations among ethnic groups or geographic regions” (, accessed 10 August 2018). 

[24] Qureshi points out that association between the sarangi and sadness is evidenced in powerful figures such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, and Rajiv Gandhi.

[25] I found this framework useful in examining how certain musical experiences evolve into collective experiences. The repeated experiences of musical and non-musical associations with the instrument, as Rancier argues, are not “limited to the individual, but grow into collective, culturally conditioned responses to the meanings that are activated by a musical instrument” (2014:385).

[26] Other publications on Indigenous are High Mountain Green (Gaoshan qing 高山青) during the 1980s, and Indigenous News (Yuanbao 原報) and Hunter’s Culture (Lieren wenhua 獵人文化), Austronesian Times (Nandao shibao 南島時報) during the early and the mid-1990s. Undoubtedly, these press and journal magazines, whose primary focus on socio-political issues about Indigenous peoples, was crucial in “awakening the Indigenous subjective consciousness.” However, Taiwan Indigenous Voices Bimonthly, edited by Indigenous scholar Sun Ta-Chuan (孫大川) with eight other Indigenous scholars/writers serving on the editorial board, focuses primarily on cultural issues about Indigenous peoples (, accessed September 16, 2019). For this reason, this article focuses on Taiwan Indigenous Voices Bimonthly.

[27] According to the appendix in CCA 1996.

[28] These activities have a strong pedagogical component in order to pass on the traditional Indigenous crafts and arts. The pedagogical activities of this kind were mostly held at Schools with Special Indigenous Focus, which refer to schools at the senior secondary level and below with a specific number or proportion of Indigenous students (Education Act for Indigenous Peoples, Article 4). For instance, World Vision International invited experts to teach about how to make and play Indigenous mouth-harps at Datong Junior High School in Yilan County (Hsieh 2004:146). Tabalong Elementary School in Hualian County also held a series of study group of Amis wooden carving (ibid).    

[29] The CCA entrusted each cultural center to design its own festival with local characteristics. Through this, cultural centers were mobilized to use local resources and to design programs relevant to local people (Wang 2012). The National Theatre and Concert Hall also hold the Indigenous Music and Dance Series, inviting domestic Indigenous music scholars, such as Ming Li-Kuo (明立國), to be the producer for the performances. 

[30] It is worth noting that Vuluk later collaborated with Hu Tai-Li’s project on Paiwan flutes.

[31] During these eight years (1995–2003), the program completed 107 projects, costing approximately 477,799,000 NTD (14.5 million USD) (Wang 2012:166).

[32] These included one Atayal mouth-harp education scheme, two Paiwan flute education schemes by Pingtung County Government, one Indigenous music ethnographic project (the documentary film Sounds of Love and Sorrow), two Indigenous weaving education schemes, one Indigenous dancing group, and one Indigenous song-and-dance group. This data is derived from the 1999 NCFTA Annual Report of Subsidy (, accessed September 16, 2019) .

[33]Before the Academia Sinica’s commission, Hu documented and filmed several Indigenous religious and performative activities, such as the Paiwan five-year ceremony maljeveq (1985), Songs of Pasta'ay (1989), and Voices of Orchid Island (1993).

[34] The term nanguaq literally means “great things.” The term burai is used among southern and eastern Paiwan regions. When someone sings well, the Paiwan people would say “nanquaq a su senai.”

[35] According to my conversation with a Paiwan language teacher, samiring means that one’s words, deeds, behaviors, and dressing are all matching. If there is a girl whose speech, nasi (breath or life), and dressing are all complementary, that is samiring. It is not just about beautiful, but a holistic impression. 

[36] These publications include Paiwanzu de bidi yu koudi [Paiwan Nose flutes and Mouth Flutes] (2001) and the documentary Sounds of Love and Sorrow (2000). 

[37] These Paiwan flautists are Pairang Pavavalung, Rhemaliz Tuvlelem, Tsegav Talulaiats.

[38] Maljeveq is used to be held periodically in the majority of Paiwan communities in order to commemorate ancestors and reinforce this connection with Mt. Tjagaraus (Mt. Dawu), the sacred “homeland” (Chen 2015:24). Nowadays, it takes place once every five years. In maljeveq, “both good and evil ghosts return to the village to receive the villagers’ hospitality, although some rituals are also practiced” to “prevent the possible damage brought by evil ghosts” (Hu 2005:158). Iaqu refers to a particular type of ritual songs with the non-lexical syllables “i-ya-qu,” which is typically used for maljeveq only (Chou 2013:191).  

[39] As an important symbol of Paiwan material culture, the beads reflect the division of Paiwan social organization; some beads are restricted to the members of nobility (mamazangiljan) and middle classes only (Chen 2015:167). More details, also see Hu Chia-Yu (胡家瑜) 2012.

[40] Tan Shzr-Ee also points out the divination of birds in the music of Amis group in Taiwan (Tan 2012:55).

[41] The origin of Indigenous tourist song-and-dance can be traced back to China Youth Corps (CYC), a semi-military and social education organization that taught young Indigenous men and women and recruited members from Indigenous communities in the 1950s. The Cultural Working Group (wenhua gongzuodui 文化工作隊) under CYC normally performed cheerleading-like song-and-dance to motivate local residents and spread the KMT’s political ideology, which repeatedly imposed the expectation that Indigenous Peoples are a passionate, “can sing and dance well” racialized other (Chen 2007).

[42] According to my conversations with numerous Paiwan people, Hu’s film and publications on Paiwan flutes are considered a significant contribution.

[43] Hu states that the sonic characters of such unique vibrato and sliding are the key to create the weeping-like sound (Hu 1996:36).

[44] Completing the first musicological dissertation on Paiwan music (Chou 2013), Chou has made several in-depth music investigations and maintains a specific emic perspective of Paiwan music. As a Paiwan scholar who is familiar with Paiwan language, Chou has been an active speaker at many lectures and performance events of Paiwan music, as well as a key coordinator to the transmission of Paiwan flutes. 

[45] Nian Siou-Ling was a key coordinator in assisting the interviews with Paiwan flautists and the translation of Paiwan language for the 1995 Preservation Project (Hu et al. 2001:9). As a local member of Piuma community, Nian is currently the executive secretary of Community Development Association of Piuma community.  

[46] There are several CDs described as Indigenous music based on its social function or musicological characteristics of homophonic, harmonic, and polyphonic textures. Examples include The Songs of the Paiwan Tribe, The Music of Aborigines on Taiwan Island, Vol. 7 (1994).

[47] France- and Japan-trained Taiwanese ethnomusicologist Hsu Chang-Hui escorted a troupe of Indigenous peoples on a performance tour of Europe in 1988. A recording of the performance in Paris was made. The album Polyphonies Vocales Des Aborigènes De Taiwan compiled selections from the recording of this performance and Hsu’s other field recordings in 1978 as part of a folksong collection project (Tan 2012).

[48] In fact, some of the Paiwan recordings on vinyl records during the 1960s featured Chinese song titles that do not particularly contain themes of love or sorrow. Ring Ring Record, a Taiwanese local record label, produced many vinyl records of Indigenous songs during the 1960s. For instance, the song “iluwananayau” (FL958-2405) was translated as “Chui di huanxing” (literally “Awakening with the flute playing” 吹笛喚醒), which features a Paiwan folk song with the accompaniment of the mouth flute. It is worth noting that many of the Paiwan song titles are non-lexical syllables, so they were translated into Chinese based on either its social functions or auditory experiences. For example, “Wedding song,” “Love song,” and “Song of Harvest Festival” (FL-957A~FL-959B).

[49] For example, these song titles include “Lianmu nide rongyan nide meili” (戀慕你的容顏你的美麗) [“Admiring the Beauty of Your Countenance”] and “Chuanchang ailian de xiongdi” (傳唱愛戀的兄弟) [“Brothers Who Sing of Love and Longing”]. It is worth noting that the track “Chuanchang ailian de xiongdi” features a highly similar rendition with the track labeled “Twin-pipe flute performed by Pairang.” in Hu’s 2001 CD.

[50] For instance, the book mentions that Paiwan men typically play the “sorrowful and lonely tune” to move the hearts of their beloved (Chen 2017:26). 



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