Between 1895 and 1945, the island of Taiwan was a Japanese colony inhabited not only by the majority (Han Chinese immigrants) but also by the remnants of the aboriginal tribes who first settled in the mountainous land. In 1930, Mouna Rudo, the leader of one of the Seediq tribes settled on and around Mount Chilai, forged a coalition with other Seediq tribal leaders and plotted a rebellion against their Japanese colonial masters. It was to launch at a sports day meeting where the assembled tribesmen were to attack and kill the Japanese officials. The initial uprising took the Japanese by surprise and was almost entirely successful. But the Japanese soon sent in their army to crush the rebellion. Mouna Rudo knew from the start that the relatively small force of Seediq tribesmen stood no chance of defeating Japan. But he and his allies were sustained by the beliefs and myths which had nourished their tribes. Young males in the tribes had to undergo a rite of passage to become adult men, marked by their facial tattoos. In tribal language, they became Saideke Balai: heroes of the tribe.
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