Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Oral Presentation Session
Nanshi Amis—the indigenous people in the Eastern Valley of Taiwan—has developed ritual practices related to animals, most prominently birds. Rituals are scheduled with activities of millet sowing, pest control, weeding, and harvest in a yearly cycle. However, changes of the ritual locales including losing traditional territories, urbanization, and means of acquiring ritual animals, have created “environmental shift” of ritual landscape. White pheasant feathers, precious to age-group initial ritual, have been imported from Vietnam due to the scarce of local species. As a result, the ritual landscape made of birds has been heavily transformed.
This paper discusses the transition of Amis ritual landscape and its entangled relations with birds based on the viewpoints of ritual landscape and culture heritage. In particular, this paper compares and contrasts the change of human-species relationship during the ritual cycles—especially on the use of birds of three occasions: the feather decoration in harvest ritual and age-set ceremonies, the bird feast after the harvest exchange labor, and the symbolic bird transformation with bamboo leaves after shamanic worship. Furthermore, it explores the use of animals in recognition of “ritual landscape,” which reflects the impact of environmental changes of habitats remembered via ritual practices. In the end, this paper takes ritual activities as a form of engaged cultural heritagization, in order to show its “relational ecology” in the age of anthropocene.