The cultural heritage of Taroko National Park can be divided into three main categories: prehistoric sites, the culture of the Taroko aborigines, and transportation systems of past and present.
- 1.Prehistoric SitesThese sites provide evidence of human habitation before recorded history. According to preliminary research, there are seven places of this kind in the park and around the park entrance. Of these the Taroko Site is the most famous. Here 85 upright stones, were found standing in orderly fashion on the Terrace.
This type of upright stone is similar to those of the Chi-Lin culture, but comes from the New Stone Age, like the Pei-Nan culture. Furthermore, both upright stones and stone coffins have been found at this site, indicating a blending of both cultures. Moreover, the lateral flexed burial position found here is similar to that found in the Shi San Hang culture in North Taiwan which dates from the pre-Christian era.
which dates from the pre-Christian era. Thus, it is estimated to be about two or three thousand years old.
The other six prehistoric sites are: Buluowan, Xidagan, Batagan, Bulexengan, Tura-Sag and Xibao. Prehistoric relics, like pottery fragments, stone axes, stone spinning wheels and iron have been found in these places.
- 2.Aboriginal Taroko CultureThe Taroko(Truku) tribe is one of Taiwan's 14 aboriginal tribes. The Taroko developed from the Atayal tribe. The Atayal is divided into Atayal Proper and Sedeq Proper. Sedeq Proper is in turn divided into the East Sedeq group, inhabiting Taroko, and the West Sedeq group. Somewhere between A:D. 1680 and 1740 the Taroko people, who then lived near the upper reaches of the Zhuoshui River, found broad wilderness to the east of the Central Mountain Ranges. They then crossed the mountains and settled in the valley of the Liwu River and its tributaries, where the sites of 79 old Taroko villages have already been found. After 250 years of separation from the Atayal, the Taroko(Truku) language has developed differently. The Taroko tribe was officially-approved in 2004 January and became the 12th indigenous tribe in Taiwan.
The Taroko people had a fairly advanced culture. They mainly practiced slash-and-burn agriculture, hunting, fishing and gathering. After Taiwan was recovered from Japan in 1945, the Han people introduced the Taroko to rice farming, but the mountain people preferred millet, corn, sweet potato and hill rice. When fighting with other tribes, Taroko people used to cut off their enemies' heads, after which the members of the tribe celebrated with reveling and drinking as a means of promoting the solidarity and safety of the tribe. This custom was abolished many years ago, as have the initiation rituals of facial tattooing and tooth-filing.
The Taroko people's weaving skill was highly developed. Both men and women wore homemade gunny with tea-brown stripes on a white background, and also wore ornaments on their heads, ears, necks, and feet. The craft skills of the Taroko tribe (weaving, gunny spinning, working with wood and rattan, and net knotting) was among the best in Taiwan. Taroko people usually chose small terraces in the mountains on which to establish their villages.