Saisiyat Folklore Museum

Northern Taiwan

On the shore of Xiangtian Lake, this museum is dedicated to the Saisiyat (賽夏族) and their intriguing Festival of the Short People (賽夏族矮靈祭; Sàixiàzú Ǎlíngjì; the Pas-ta'ai Ritual). The Saisiyat ('the true people') are one of the least populous indigenous groups in Taiwan, some 5000 in number. Buses to the lake and museum leave from the visitor centre.

The Festival of the Short People is held in honour of the Ta'ai, a mythical pygmy race. According to legend, the Ta'ai and Saisiyat once lived in peace, but after the Ta'ai began molesting Saisiyat women they were killed off. Famine resulted and the festival arose as a way of appeasing the vengeful spirits who were clearly at the root of the disaster.

The festival takes place at Xingtian Lake on a full moon around the 15th day of the 10th lunar month every two years, with a particularly large event held every 10 years.

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