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The Soul of Jade Mountain By Husluman Vava

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The Soul of Jade Mountain

Translator’s Preface

The ancestors of Taiwan’s Austronesian Indigenous peoples migrated to the island from areas in southern China and Southeast Asia more than five thousand years ago. Over the course of the millennia, they developed unique ways of thriving in the rich, diverse semitropical ecospheres of the island. Rugged mountain terrain, fertile coastal plains, and an ocean teeming with life encouraged a tremendous diversity of cultural responses, leading to the formation of at least twenty-nine Indigenous nations with their own distinct identities and languages. Then, beginning some three thousand years ago, these enterprising people established trade routes all over the South Pacific. Those trade routes also served as conduits of cultural influence that saw Austronesian language and ways of life come to dominate in the archipelagos of the southern Pacific, including the Philippines, Indonesia and Polynesia. Today, speakers of Austronesian languages, believed to have first developed in Taiwan, live in areas as widely dispersed as Hawai’i, New Zealand, Easter Island, and Madagascar.

Yet, the story of the original Austronesian peoples of Taiwan is seldom told. After their initial migrations to the island, they settled in the fertile coastal plains, located mostly in the west. There they sustained themselves