This book presents evidence from a comparative study of oral narratives to support the theory that the peoples of the Bashiic culture area, a territory which comprises the islands on opposite sides of the Bashi Strait; in the Pacific Ocean, are not only historically related, but in fact share a common origin. These peoples are the Yami, who inhabit a small island off the southern coast of Taiwan, an island known as Irala in their language, Lan Yu; in Chinese, and Orchid Island; in English; and the peoples of the Batanes, which are located two hundred miles south of Irala on the northern Philippine islands of Ivatan, Sabtang, and Itbayat.
This comparative study consists of three major parts. Part 1 describes the cultures of the people. It presents archaeological data on jar burial practices in the Batan Archipelago; and discusses the origin of the "magic" beads of the Yami and of the people of the Batanes. Part 1 also includes a brief description of the Bashiic languages, a word list that illustrates the lexical similarities between these languages, and a transcribed and translated conversation between a Yami and a person from Itbayat. The conversation demonstrates the degree of mutual comprehension among these ethnic groups after three hundred years of isolation. Furthermore, part 1 includes a description of the belief systems of the cultures and elaborates on the topics of magic, ritual, and taboo. The personal stories of a Yami and an Ivatan diviner illustrate the flexibility of the rapidly changing belief systems of these cultures.
Part 2 is devoted to a comparative analysis of the narratives. It includes a chapter on theme and motif variations in Yami narratives and presents several mythological links that suggest a common origin for these peoples. Using the data on subsistence presented in part 1, I relate changes in the subsistence activities among these peoples to changes in their literary genres. I also discuss problems of using genre classifications as a taxonomic device for Bashiic folklore and the necessity for an interdisciplinary approach to Bashiic research. Part 3 contains transcriptions and translations of Bashiic narratives and folksongs .
My interest in the island peoples that constitute the topic of this book was aroused when, in 1980-1981, while studying the etymology of Chinese characters at National Taiwan University, I visited Irala. I decided to return to Irala in 1982 to explore the Yami culture by learning their language and participating in the activities of their everyday life. Subsequently I also visited the northern islands of the Philippines in search of evidence to support my hypothesis that the affinities between the people of the Batanes and the Yami go beyond a mere general historical relationship.
The Yami have remained, until recently, relatively untouched by the twentieth century. Retaining their ancient subsistence practices as well as their creation myths, the Yami have continued to live as their ancestors had before. Their mode of living contrasts with the highly modernized lifestyle of the Batanes islanders, whose contact with Western civilization has drastically altered their cultures. The old culture has survived only with the Yami. Today, if the natives of the Batanes want to know more about their pre-colonial life, they may be able to learn from the traditions of the Yami, though in recent years the Yami have not escaped a certain inevitable degree of acculturation either. What we find now in the Bashiic area, then, is an ancient culture which first split and then developed in isolation on Irala, and in contact with the West in the Batanes islands, under different influences. Consequently, another purpose of this study is to show how mythology changes under different cultural influences.
If the language and the oral narratives serve as primary sources for my theory of the common origin of these two separated cultures, these elements alone cannot furnish sufficient information to determine the exact origin of the Bashiic peoples. In the course of this study, therefore, I will present some evidence from the material culture to provide further support for the notion that the two peoples share a common origin, and will link this hypothesis to recent theories about the origin of the Austronesian peoples.
Because of the extensive fieldwork involved, research for this study lasted for almost seven years, and I am indebted to a great number of individuals and institutions for its completion. In Taiwan I am thankful to my professor, Chang Han-liang, to researchers Hsu Ying-chou, Liu Ping-hsiung, Wei De-wen, Hans Egli, Virginia Larson, Rosemarie Thomson, Anne West, and friends Inge Vidor, Paul Vidor, Wang Yuen-fen, Uli Scherer, Chen Li-chu, Wang Li-sha, Sheree Wang, Andrew Morton, and David Murphy. In Japan my thanks go to professors Shigeru Tsuchida, Kazuko Matsuzawa, Yukihiro Yamada, Kokichi Segawa, to my generous friends Kazuko Masui, Shoichi Osakatani, Shitoshi and Berta Fukaya, and Emiko Nagasaki. In the Philippines, my gratitude belongs to professors Florentino Hornedo, Andrew Gonzales, Ernesto Constantino, Gabriel Congson, and likewise, I am thankful to my numerous Ivatan friends, Orlando Hontomin, Oliva Elica, Bernardo Hornedo, Quintina Gutierez, Catalino Esperanza of Ivatan, and my good Itbayat friends Armando Delatado, Leling Delatado, Gregorio Delatado, and Dominador Castilio for their warm moral support and for their generous financial assistance. I am greatly indebted to the Yami people of Irala who accepted me, to my loving Yami family Siamen-Magananaw, Siapen-Magananaw and Sipen-Kotan (Isamo), who adopted me, and to my Yami friends Si-Mogaz, Si-Marat, and Si-Mankap (Kalaro), who patiently taught me how to work and survive in the jungle, on the taro fields, and under the waves of the ocean. I am very grateful to all my informants who let me record their stories, Siapen-Manabey, Siapen-Kotan (Manowawa) Siapen-Mangawat, Siapen-Mankeran who explained their songs and ancient customs to me and who also help ed me with the translations. I thank my researcher friends in Europe Veronique Arnauld, Barbara Krug, Katalin Kürtösi, René Maury, and István Zombori for their generous help. I am indebted to my professors, researchers and friends in the United States John Balaban, Philip Baldi, Samuel Bayard, Stephen Beckerman, Robert Brill, Andrei and Maria Derevenco, Mircea and Cristina Draghicescu, Caroline Eckhardt, Gabriel Escobar, Peter Farkas, Thomas Hale, Thomas Magner, Joseph Michels, Paul O'hern, Adrian Ocneanu, Stanley Paulson, Katalin and Mátyás Söni, Lajos Szatmári, Kenneth Thigpen, William White, Vincent Yang, Ellen Woolford, and Eun-Geun Yoon. I thank Glen Kreider for his help with the text processing, and the doctors Hsie Wei-chuan and Chen Ching-yu in Taiwan, Ruel Nicolas and Pedro Castilio in the Philippines, who saved my life on several occasions. I am equally thankful to my colleagues Ronald Bogue, Betty Jean Craig, Egbert Krispyn, and Katharina Wilson for their warm moral support, and to Robert Croft, Kent Kraft, Junko Majima, Masaki Mori, Clate Sanders and Mihai Spariosu, who have commented extensively on and have provided editorial help with the manuscript.
I am indebted to the following institutions and foundations for their generous financial support: National Taiwan University, Skaggs Foundation, Pacific Cultural Foundation, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and The College of the Liberal Arts of The Pennsylvania State University.
The traditional cultures of the Bashiic peoples are disappearing rapidly. Thus, although my work on this project has been interrupted by a series of life-threatening tropical diseases and other difficulties, a sense of great urgency has dominated my efforts to preserve a significant corpus of oral narratives before they disappear from their original context. I recorded over 120 hours of oral narratives for this project, but here I could include as evidence transcriptions for only a small fraction of this material. In addition to the texts compared in this study, I hope to prepare many more recordings for presentation in other contexts.