ˇ· 1996 Songs of VuVu [ ancestors ]ˇXfeaturing of Paiwan tribe

For the Paiwan tribe, vuvu means ancestry, grandparents and grandchildren. The close link between the ancestors and their offspring, in fortunes or in misfortunes, is reflected in the grand quinquennial Maleveq , or rite of ancestral spirits, of the Busul communities. Gulou village in Laiyi township, Pingdong county, is one of the birthplaces of the rite, and has preserved the most complete rituals and songs and dances of Maleveq . Legend has it that Paiwan ancestor Lemej went to the realm of spirits to learn the rituals of Maleveq , and brought back the millet seedlings to the human's world. He then married the goddess drengerh , and send their children to teach the rituals to humans. The Paiwan tribe believes that these tales to be tjautsiker , or ˇ§true legend.ˇ¨ During the Maleveq in October 1994, the Formosa Aboriginal Song & Dance Troupe entered Gulou village amid the singing of iaqu , and witnessed how the villagers invoked and welcomed the spirits of their ancestors, and prayed for good harvest and hunting as well as health and blessings. The rituals were followed by activities such as popping balloons with bamboo sticks, and a variety of ritual songs and dances. After the event, the troupe members spent over a year learning the songs, dances and musical instruments of vuvu from Gulou villagers and elders.

Paiwan language is known for its difficult pronunciations. Fortunately the tribe had developed drills and counting rhymes for pronunciation exercises. The troupe members, coming from different aboriginal tribes, started from these simple but interesting nursery rhymes to learn numbers and basic sentences, before moving gradually into the vocabulary reflecting profound thoughts and feelings of the Paiwan tribe. In return, the troupe compiled the nursery rhymes which they have learned into teaching materials for Gulou Elementary School's mother tongue lessons. Children from the school were also invited to take part in the troupe's performances, to present the results of their nursery rhyme learning together.

Gulou villagers are all born children of their creator Naqemati, they become children of their worldly parents only after a rite of initiation by a sorceress. Gulou ancestors have passed down a variety of lullabies and nursery rhymes, which can be woven freely with the singers' expectations for their children. The richness and diversity of how the Paiwan tribe express their love and care for the youngsters is simply marvelous: there are different tunes for rocking a cradle, carrying a child, or sitting a child of the chief, a hero or an ordinary villager in the knee.

The ancient songs also manifest how the Paiwan tribe cherish the memories of their homeland and ancestors. The troupe is very fortunate to have learned ulung tjavari , a song that dates back to the first village Kurasa after the Paiwan ancestors moved south from Eastern Taiwan. The lyrics describe the fragrant tjavari tree, a symbol for women, and how its seeds were scattered in the wild. Later, the ancestors built Gulou village in the mountains, and the tribe lived there for centuries before moving their village to its present location in Pingdong county around 1957. Longing for Gulou details their yearning for Tareng , their old village, as they never put the fond memories out of mindˇXTareng's fields, stone walls and festivities in front of the chief's home remain as vivid as ever. In addition to the ritual songs and dances of Maleveq , melodies such as unanasi and uinsatseqal that are sung daily, love songs echoing in the hills, and the music of flute for one's sweetheart at midnight will remain forever in the hearts of Gulou villagers.