Legends of the beads of the Paiwan tribe: Part 5

This is the fifth part of an eight-part article introducing the traditional names, meanings and legends associated with 34 glass beads of the Paiwan tribe.



This bead is referred to in a Paiwan legend as a spirit with a thousand eyes and ears who sees all that people do. This legend is a reminder to the Paiwan people to be on their guard to always do what is right even when they think no one is looking. Thus, this bead is associated with righteousness.  


Lusena refers to tears in the Paiwan language and adau refers to the sun. Thus, this is called the “tears of the sun” bead. According to tribal legend, long ago the sun was very close to the earth making it difficult to grow crops or to obtain water due to the intense heat. The people of the Paiwan tribe tried many different ways to push the sun farther up in the sky but they could not find any materials that could stand up to the heat of the sun. One day someone suggested cooking three grains of millet and letting the steam push the sun away. This plan worked and the steam came back to Earth as droplets of water relieving the drought and cooling the earth. The Paiwan tribe considered that these droplets of water were tears of the sun as it missed being close to the earth.




This is the bead of alliance and friendship. One of the legends associated with it says that there were once two Paiwan villages, one small and one large. They were separated by a stream and for a long time they lived in peace. However, there was a great chieftain of the large village who was very ambitious and sought to take over the small village. Fortunately, the chieftain of the small village was very wise. He had heard that the large village chieftain was very fond of beads. Thus, he sent his shaman to the chieftain of the large village with a strand of Palalivak beads and a message of peace. When the chieftain of the large village saw the beautiful Palalivak beads he pledged his friendship to the small village.  


This is referred to as the universe bead. In traditional Paiwan philosophy, the universe was considered a vast and infinite circle. All living things and humans live inside this circle. Only the supreme god Tagaraus can leave this circle. This bead features an orange background with four blue circles.



Source: Much of the information contained in this article is from research conducted by and provided courtesy of Umass Zingrur.  

Note: There are variations in bead shapes, colors and patterns. These illustrations are a reference only and may not provide a completely accurate depiction.