Naming customs of Taiwanese aborigines

The naming customs of Aboriginal Taiwanese are distinct from, though influenced by, the majority Han Chinese culture of Taiwan. Prior to contact with Han Chinese, the Aboriginal Taiwanese named themselves according to each tribe's tradition. The naming system varies greatly depending on the particular tribes. Some tribes do not have family names, at least as part of the personal name.

Under the strong influence of Chinese culture and forces of cultural assimilation brought by Han settlers in the 17th century, the Aboriginal Taiwanese have gradually adopted Han names. In the 17th and 18th centuries, possession of a Han surname was considered to be a sign of being civilized, in part because adoption of a Han surname meant that that person was now entered into the population registration books and could be taxed. Upon possessing a Han surname, most of the lowland Aboriginal tribes assimilated with the Han immigrants, and eventually no longer saw themselves or were seen as a distinct population.

The handful of highland tribes generally kept separate names until after World War II when the government systematically assigned Han names to Indigenous Taiwanese. Aboriginal Taiwanese people settled near Hakka communities were sometimes assigned Hakka-like family names. For instance, Aboriginal pop singer A-mei (張惠) may have a name with Hakka characteristics.

For a few decades in the first half of the 20th century under Japanese rule, a strict policy was put in place to quickly assimilate the island's inhabitants en masse by instituting Japanese names. These names were generally abandoned in Taiwan after 1945 when Japanese rule ended.

In the last two decades some Aboriginal Taiwanese people have again taken up traditional names or chosen to emphasize them. However, few have abandoned their Han names, in part because the Austronesian names are difficult for non-aboriginal people to remember or pronounce. As a legacy of the anti-romanisation policy of the past, even these names are often written in Chinese characters to mimic their native sounds, even though Formosan languages are typically written in the Latin alphabet.

Aboriginal names

The naming rules of Taiwanese aborigines:

Tribe Structure Example(s) Note
Amis Personal name + Patronymic/Matronymic name + Clan name
Personal name + Clan name
Personal name + Patronymic/Matronymic name
Ado' Kaliting Pacidal (阿洛·卡立亭·巴奇辣)
Difang Tuwana (郭英男)
Mayaw Ciro (陳鏞基)
Part of the tribe omit patronymic/matronymic name,
directly connected clan name.
Unable to visit the clan of the tribe,
that alone is connected patronymic/matronymic name.
Saisiyat Given name + Patronymic name + Clan name Tahas Tain Kaybaybaw(打赫史·達印·改擺刨)
Bunun Given name + Clan name Yohani Isqaqavut(尤哈尼·伊斯卡卡夫特)
Tsou Given name + Clan name Uyongʉ Yata'uyungana (高一生)
Kavalan Given name + Clan name Baqah Siqeyu(潘金榮)
Thao Given name + Clan name Kilash Shiqatafatu(石阿松)
Atayal Given name + Patronymic name Yungai Hayung(溫嵐)
Sediq Given name + Patronymic name Mona Rudao(莫那·魯道)
Truku Given name + Patronymic name Bokeh Kosang(徐詣帆)
Paiwan Given name + House name Uliw Qaljupayare(簡東明)
Rukai Given name + House name Taiban Sasala (台邦·撒沙勒)
Puyuma Given name + House name Paelabang Danapan(孫大川)
Yami Si + given name
Si aman + firstborn name (father)
Si nan + firstborn name (mother)
Si apen + firstborn names (grandparents)
Si apen kotan (great-grandparents)
Si Maraos(瑪拉歐斯)
Si aman Rapongan(夏曼·藍波安)
Si nan Mavivo (希婻‧瑪飛洑; 賴美惠)
Si apen Sorong(謝加仁)


  • Walis Yukan (瓦歷斯‧尤幹), Atayal, a famous aboriginal activist and poet.
  • Walis Perin, Seediq, minister of the Council of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Giwas Ali, Atayal name of Kao Chin Su-mei, a singer, actress and politician.
  • Gulilai Amit, a.k.a. A-mei, an ethnic Puyuma pop singer.
  • Attun Palalin, a.k.a. Teruo Nakamura, a Taiwan-born soldier of the Imperial Japanese Army who fought for Japan in World War II and did not surrender until 1974.

See also


External links

Name lists

These names are mostly male names and they belong to Taiwanese people of the past one to two hundred years. Most of these are not Taiwanese names and are indistinguishable from Chinese names.

This page was last updated at 2021-06-13 10:05, update this pageView original page

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