“Among the Head-hunters of Formosa”  (1922)

“During the absence of the warriors on one of these [head-hunting] expeditions, the women of the group will abstain from weaving, or even from handling the material—a sort of coarse native hemp—which customarily they weave into clothing. Except for the studious tending of the fires in their respective huts—for if these were allowed to go out, it would be considered a most evil omen—they do little until they hear in the distance the cries which herald the return of the warriors. Then, depending upon whether the cries denote victory or defeat, the women prepare either for a festival or for a time of lamentation.

If the warriors have been successful—that is, if they have returned with one or more heads of slain enemies—a great feast is prepared, and partaken of by the men and women together. In this respect Formosan feasts differ from the victorious warrior-feasts of many other primitive communities, at which only the men are the revellers. This difference also distinguishes the dance that follows the feast, in which both men and women participate, the Formosan aborigines forming an exception to the rule laid down by Deniker that Malay men do not dance. As in feasting and dancing, so do the women also take part in the drinking of wine—made by themselves from millet —and in the smoking of tobacco. Among the Taiyal, as among most of the other tribes, both men and women smoke bamboo pipes—more of the size and shape of those smoked by Europeans than are the tiny pipes smoked by the Chinese and Japanese. These are, however, for some reason which they could not, or would not, explain, often held upside-down while being smoked, the tobacco being very tightly “jammed” into the bowl to prevent its falling out.”

– Janet B. Montgomery McGovern

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