“On Chinese Valentine’s day, the boy wears his alofo’ and invites his lover, Panay, to Cingaroan to see the Misahafay of Pangcah!”
“The boy wears his alofo’ in an imperfect way, so the Pangcah mato’asay teaches him how to wear it makapahay!”
Explanation of the Amis terms
- Panay: the ear of rice, also a common female name in Amis.
- Cingaroan: an Amis community in Hualien, Taiwan.
- Pangcah: the way the Amis people in Hualien called themselves.
- Misahafay: the preparation before the Harvest Ceremony.
- Mato’asay: the eldest level in the age organization of Amis.
- Makapahay: pretty, beautiful.
In order to write this tongue twister, I made a great effort to squeeze those phrases of Amis mother language from my brain. Kind of overwhelming now, boy!
Obviously, this tongue twister is talking about the alofo’, the lover’s bag of Amis.
When it comes to the season of the Harvest Ceremony, all the Amis communities are preparing for it. The preparation for the Harvest Ceremony is called Misahafay in Amis language.
But, back to our concern, how do young people wear an alofo’ beautifully and properly ? How to be makapahay?
According to the Amis from the community Cingaroan in Hualien, to wear an alofo’ in the Harvest Ceremony, one must let the strap of alofo’ goes from right shoulder to left waist. If the strap goes from left shoulder to right waist, it means that the person is holding a funeral at home, which represents a totally different situation!
According to an Amis, when he was young, his alofo’ was so heavy that he switched it to the other side of his shoulder secretly. Soon after, he was blamed by the elders!
Furthermore, if you wore an alofo’ in a wrong side, Amis girls wouldn’t be able to know whether she could tug your alofo’ to show her love – What a tragedy!
So, always keep it in mind that you should wear an alofo’ from your right shoulder. Don’t do it inversely, or the Pangcah Mato’asay will mock at you!
About the Translator
Andrea Tseng, now a pediatric resident in Taiwan, trying to do something different from ordinary life to keep her passion for Taiwanese indigenous culture.
- How an Amis girl chases his Prince Charming: http://en.pure-taiwan.info/2014/03/cute-amis-guys
Any indigenous stories to share with us?
E-mail to Mata Taiwan at [email protected]
Source: 陳志東 / Photo via 奇美原住民文物館