Less than an hours’ road journey from Le Ye Village, we arrive at Lai Ji Village where we will be staying for the night in a homestay run by the native Tsou Tribe of Alishan.
Lai Ji Village is also affectionately known as the Wild Boar Tribe according to the stories told by the elders. Story has it that a Tsou hunter was chased by a wild boar and stumbled upon this fertile land, where he eventually settled down and the village of Lai Ji is developed. The villagers have since established a harmonious relationship with the wild boars and in fact, the wild boar is a symbol of luck to the people of Lai Ji.
These colourful art pieces are creations of a native Tsou artist, Pu-U Akuyana, whose love for wild boar grew and developed when she reared a wild boar as a pet since young. Her designs vibrantly and boldly expresses the lively nature of these wild boars with very interesting use of the boulders’ surface to create expressions and perspective, it is worth exploring the town like you are in the art gallery. At Pu-U Workshop , you will also be able to spend some time with Pu-U shares fondly of her experiences with her wild boar pet and how she became an artist while you experience some DIY crafts.
Through this closeness in relationship between the villagers of Lai Ji and the wild boars in the area, a beautiful expression of art can be spotted when you take a drive through the village. Rocks and stones are colorfully painted with wild boars along the street bringing the drive through the village so much more interesting as you try to spot the next rock’s design.
THE ARTIST OF LAI JI | PU-U WORKSHOP
Around Pu-U’s workshop, you’ll find art pieces in every corner, in every form of wild boar you can imagine.
In the cozy abode of Pu-U’s workshop, we were invited to a round of locally grown organic tea while listening to Pu-U sharing her inspirations for her art work, her affection for her pet wild boar which eventually became food on the table when her mom decided that it was of the right age and size. I can only imagine the trauma of finding out that your pet has been converted into food when you return home. 🙁
I could spend the whole evening lounging at Pu-U’s workshop, the jazz songs playing in the background, the light cool breeze gently parting the chiffon curtains and sips of warm tea.
A performance was prepared back at the home stay and it was something not to be missed when in Lai Ji Village.
THE FUTURE OF TSOU TRIBE
Back at the homestay, a huge campfire has been set up in the open square where all the guests were invited to gather around to watch the performance depicting the origins of the Tsou Tribe, with a blend of mystical and factual details, that makes it intriguing and dreamy. The Tsou Tribe believed that they all originated as falling maple leaves, as they drop from the trees and touch the ground, they miraculously appear in the human form. Their history did not begin in Alishan, but had their beginnings in in Tainan, and during the Dutch occupation (1624-1662), they were forced to move up inlands into Alishan to seek refuge and have since called Alishan their hometown.
It was extremely enjoyable and heartwarming to see that the people of Lai Ji village coming together across all ages to put up such an engaging performance to share their love for their culture and heritage for visitors. The youngest performer is 6 years old and the eldest at 42 years old, it must have been quite alot of work and coordination to prepare for this hour long performance that captured all our full attention.
Soon it was bed time and we returned to the comfort of our room. The rooms are clean and simply but adequately furnished, with hot water for shower to hair dryer.
GETTING TO LAI JI
Enquire at Laiji Community Development Association
+886 5 2661002
Read More on Laiji Here
National Highway No. 3 -> Jhongpu Interchange to Jhongpu, Chiayi -> Provincial Highway No. 18
-> Shizhuo – County Highway No. 169/155 -> Laiji