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Malacecay ! Let’s work together to pass on Amis culture

In Chenggong Town, on the east coast of Taiwan, there is a beautiful traditional Amis house made of bamboo and thatch. It’s Akac Orat (陳豪毅) who took the initiative to build this house, under the project name “Malacecay”, which refers to “cooperation” in Amis language. After learning rattan weaving, Akac Orat became more and more interested in Amis culture, so from 2018 to 2020, he built this house with the help of volunteers and people from the village. This house is not a touristic spot, but a place where the Amis culture and spirit can continue to live and be passed on.

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“Most of the local people think: “why not build a concrete house instead?” Actually, our education system teaches us the values of “convenience” and “speed”. These values are still very mainstream today and it deeply affects our culture and way of life. Thus, people would naturally wonder why to spend money to build such a house which can easily be damaged when a typhoon comes. On the other hand, the most elderly people miss this kind of house, and when they see it, they say: “wow! I haven’t seen this kind of house for a long time!”. They miss the feeling of living in this kind of house and especially the fireplace… But then what? What can they do? They are too old now. Natural materials are very useful, we should pass on this value: suppose that this house was blown by a typhoon today, well, I wouldn’t feel worried, because I know how it is built, I know where the natural materials grow, I know how to prepare the materials to build a new house. This is the most important.”
“I live between the sea and the mountains, I’m already very happy. I just try to take care of existing resources and pass on the correct knowledge to those who are willing to learn, instead of considering that technique or technology is the highest value. If we only consider building a house through techniques, everyone would want to make money from it, because money has a kind of magical power of attraction. But this is wrong, especially regarding the knowledge of the aborigines, which has been implemented for thousands of years: there shouldn’t be patents, it should be passed on. The most important is to know the plants in the forest to be able to collect what is needed, take care of the mountains, and after all, houses can be rebuilt. This is the basics.”

A short report (in Chinese) on the construction of this house

Article (in Chinese) on how to avoid mouses in the cereals storage !

Video about rattan harvest by Atayal people in Taiwan:

Photos © Sasa

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