Quinn, Jeff. (2011) Man On The Scene: Kaliu , U.S.A. : Create Space
Books, pp. 282 http://www.manonthescene.org/index.php/kaliu/
" Kaliu" is a word in the Matsu/Fujian dialect--and also
used in Taiwan--which
means to enjoy one's stay or enjoy one's self. According to the author, Jeff
Quinn, visitors to the Matsu region of Taiwan are sometimes told to "kaliu
With Man On The Scene: Kaliu, Jeff Quinn has taken time to
write and publish another important work of his--as part of his series entitled
"Man on the Scene". One can see other examples
of Jeff's publishing links at:
Before I begin a review of Jeff's newest Man-on-the-Scene work, I would like to
allow Jeff to share a bit, in his own
words, about his memories and the reflections on his corners of Asia as revealed in one of the historical
interpretations of life & in both the Matsu Archipelago and Taiwan, i.e. in the legends of the
Little B. People.
EARLY HISTORY OF TAIWAN by the
founding myths of Taiwan, Jeff
Quinn shares, "[c]onsensus
has it [that] the first occupants of what would later be called Taiwan arrived
5,000 to10,000 years ago. It is surmised that the northern tribes hailed from modern-day Japan, Vietnam, and Mongolia, while the southern
aboriginal groups display Mayalo/polynesian roots. But
then, nobody seems to know for sure."
raises the question in his own rye-humor, "Five to ten thousand years simply
"lost" to history. What went on? Family bonding? War, peace, and the
occasional headhunting outing? I don't know about you, but I've always found
these "lost" years intriguing. Lacking documentation or a written
history, these people, who lived for thousands of years receive a paragraph or
two in the annals of history, while those living in Taiwan for brief blinks of
an eye, such as the Spanish, receive ten times the inky output. After saying
this, I'm about to do the same, as I know squat about these mysterious
hunter-gatherer types who presumably lived wild and exciting, albeit short,
lives, scampering around the island doing their best to stay alive."
Jeff proceeds in his
stream-of-consciousness style, observing
that there is "an amusing historical
aside concerning a group known as the Little Black People (no I didn't make
that up) to share. It is speculated that the group were descendents of the
Negrito race, dispersed widely throughout the world at the time. I must confess
up front that there is a fair amount of debate whether the Negrito race ever
made it to Taiwan.
Furthermore, there is also a fair amount of debate whether there was actually a
tribe known as the Little Black People (sometimes referred to as the Short
Black People) living on the island
of Taiwan at all."
"[I]f you ask the aboriginal Saisiyat people, there is no doubt as to whether
the LBP ever resided in Taiwan.
The Saisiyat biannually celebrate a raucous ritual known as Pas-ta'ai, said to
appease an ancient curse placed on their tribe by the LBP centuries earlier.
The curse was believed to cause crop failure and to inflict general misfortune
and ill will on the Saisiyat. Accordant to Saisiyat lore, the LBP once dwelled
within the caves of a certain steep ravine in central Taiwan. It was
said the LBP were extremely knowledgeable in the ways of agriculture. They were
also allegedly keen at throwing bashes and partying. Much to the Saisiyat's
sorrow, the LBP also had an uncanny pension for accosting young Saisiyat women
by making lewd advances and flirting whenever they got the chance. One day, it
was said, a certain faction of the LBP went too far by "molesting' (what I
infer as raping) a young Saisiyat princess and her handmaidens."
story doesn't end there and the Jeff Quinn continues to interview about half
the population of Taiwan
to get at the truth on this early history of his new-but-temporary homeland. Eventually, after various anecdotes
and alternative historical narrations have been shared and pursued, Quinn asks the big question, " So, did the Little Black People live in Taiwan or not?
It seems doubtful that we'll ever know for sure. In 2004, Taiwanese Vice
President, Annette Lu, made the bold, if not misguided statement, that an
extinct race of "black pygmies' (the LBP) were the original race to inhabit Taiwan. As you
can probably imagine, this didn't go over very well with some of the other
aboriginal tribes still living on the island. Goofy or not, the celebrations
continue today, taking place every two years during the 10 th
lunar month, with larger festivals held every ten years. The celebrations last
three full days and are said to resemble dance marathons."
Jeff notes, "It appears the Little
Black People also roamed around China
for a time. Known by the Chinese during the Three Kingdom
Periods (AD 220 to AD 260) as "black dwarfs", these people were said
to possess dark skin, curly hair, and broad noses. Whether they were related to
the LBP or not remains a mystery."
Another great sample of the writing genre created by Jeffery Michael Quin
is provided in the chapter in Man on
the Scene, Kaliu on "beetle
nuts" --a topic I never once covered (nor observed) when living in and writing
on the Matsu Islands and in Taiwan. In short, like any fly-on-the-wall
perspectives on Asia, we (I) ignore what is being spit on the sidewalk in
front of us.
This acknowledgement that I did not
personally observe the usage and abuse
beetle nuts does not mean that I did not
have the awareness and the eye for the signs of this sort of substance
while living in Taiwan. I read, in fact, quite a bit in Amy C. Liu's, TAWAIN
A TO Z: The Essential Cultural Guide, about the commonness of this
addictive chewing habit in Southern regions of Taiwan.
As well, I would have to say that
the Taiwanese were more likely to hide or be quite secretive about their habits in front of us school
teachers on Beigan island, where I lived 7 miles north of where Jeff Quinn did. (Likewise teachers have had to hide all-kinds
of bad habits, such as smoking or
excessive drinking, from their pupils and others on the same island. Such is the life of those living and working in small town.) The silence
of peoples on the northernmost island
of Matsu, where I lived, reflected
a desire to not appear too self-critical of their own nation or peoples
in the presences of a foreigner.
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