Culture and History
The Origin of Lion’s Head (Lion’s Head Mountain)
In the Dongguang Period of Qing Dynasty (1826), Hsinchu County Magistrate, Li Sheng-Yi (李慎彝) hosted a ceremony to offer sacrifice to the mountain god at Jitianhu (today’s Nanjhuang Township). When he surveyed the beauty of nature surrounding him, he saw a mountain straddling Hsinchu and Miaoli Counties at around 500 meters above sea level. Its majestic shape looks like a lion’s head; therefore, he named it the Lion’s Head Mountain (Lion’s Head).
This area was originally settled by the Atayal and Saisiyat tribes. After the Hans began to settle in this area, the aborigines began to migrate deep into the mountains. Therefore, currently, this area is dominated by Hakka villages.
Saisiyat and Atayal were the original settlers of this area. Saisiyat’s costumes features red, black, and white geometric patterns. Hip bells, exclusive to Saisiyat, are used as rhythmic accompaniments in rituals and festivities. The Saisiyat conducts pas-ta’ai (sacrifice to the dwarf spirit) every other year. It is the grandest and most mysterious ritual of the Saisiyat and one of the most well-preserved aboriginal rituals.
Atayal’s stable foods are millets, corn, and sweet potatoes. The Atayals are great experts at linen weaving, and the most commonly seen symbol is the diamond shape. It respectfully represents the eyes of the ancestor spirit. The Atayal traditional costumes are made mainly of linen, and vests made from stringed shells are the most interesting and characteristic costume of the Atayals.