Kavalan people

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For the county in Taiwan, see Yilan County, Taiwan. For the Indian film, see Kaavalan.
Kbaran, kebalan[1]
Regions with significant populations
Kavalan, Mandarin, Taiwanese Hokkien
Animism, Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Taiwanese Aborigines

The Kavalan (endonym "kbaran" [kɨβaˈɾan]; "people living in the plain") (Chinese: 噶瑪蘭族) or Kuvalan are an indigenous people of Taiwan, part of the larger Taiwanese aborigine ethnic group. The Kavalan originally inhabited the Kabalan Plain of modern-day Yilan County. Most of them moved to the coastal area of Hualien County and Taitung County in the 19th century. Their language is also known as Kavalan. Currently, the largest settlement of Kavalan is Xinshe Village in Fengbin Township, Hualien County.


Legend has it that the Kavalan arrived by sea from the east and that when they saw the stunning beauty of this location, they decided then and there to settle this bountiful land. The newly arrived Kavalan fought many battles against the local Atayal people, and in the end the Kavalan tribe drove the Atayal tribe into the mountains — true to their name "Kavalan", which means "flatland people". That name subsequently morphed into "Hamalan", ultimately yielding the modern-day "Yilan City". They were referred as 36 Kavalan tribes (蛤仔難三十六社), although there were more than 60 tribes. In the past, tribes north of the Lanyang River were called Saisehoan (西勢番) while those south of the river were Tangsehoan (東勢番).

The earliest record of Kavalan in history was in 1632, when a Spanish ship went astray to this area by a typhoon. More clear record came in 1650 by Dutch East India Company (VOC). Reportedly, at some point there was a Spanish province of "Cabarán" in the area. Han Chinese tried to settle in the area as early as 1768. However, the settlement did not succeed until 1796, when Ngô͘ Soa (吳沙) established the first village (now Toucheng). Eventually, many more Han Chinese entered this area and the life of Kavalan was forced to change. Many of them moved to Beipu Village (in Sincheng Township of Hualien County) between 1830 and 1840.

Karewan Incident[edit]

In 1878, the Kavalan, and their Sakizaya allies, fought a devastating battle against Qing invaders.[2] This event ended in disaster for the both tribes causing many of their tribesmen to be slaughtered in an event called the "Takobowan Incident"[3] (also known as the “Galeewan Incident”[4] or “Kalyawan Battle”).[5] Others were displaced by Han settlers.[4] The remaining Sakizaya, meanwhile, were forced to blend with other tribes, such as the Ami, with the intention of protecting their identity.[6]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ 閱讀書寫篇 - 噶瑪蘭語 第6課 - 族語E樂園. 原住民族委員會,族語數位中心. 
  2. ^ Faure, David (2001). "Mountain Tribes Before Japanese Occupation". In Faure, D. In Search of the Hunters and Their Tribes. Taipei: Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines Publishing. pp. 19–21. ISBN 957-30287-0-0. 
  3. ^ Sakizaya becomes the 13th indigenous group. Taiwan Journal. Published on January 26, 2007. Retrieved on May 5, 2007.
  4. ^ a b Sakizaya Geographic Distribution. Taiwanese Council of Indigenous Peoples. Retrieved on February 28, 2008
  5. ^ A comparative study of Sakizaya and Amis in Hualien by mitochondrial DNA sequences analysis (abstract). Li-huang Tsai. Retrieved on March 2, 2008
  6. ^ Taiwan recognises 'lost' people. BBC News. Retrieved on January 19, 2007