Girl meets boy: Taiwan’s tribal matchmaking festival

This picture taken on August 19, 2017 shows members of the Amis indigenous group posing for a selfie during the traditional harvest festival in Hualien, eastern Taiwan. As night falls on a square in the village of Matai'an, young women cast critical eyes over a dancing circle of men in embroidered skirts and feathered head dresses as part of an ancient match-making ritual. Known as "Lovers' Night", it is the grand finale of the annual harvest festival for the Amis tribe, the largest of the 16 recognised indigenous groups in Taiwan. (AFP)
Updated 22 August 2017

Girl meets boy: Taiwan’s tribal matchmaking festival

HUALIEN, Taiwan: As night falls on a square in the village of Matai’an, young women cast critical eyes over a dancing circle of men in embroidered skirts and feathered head dresses as part of an ancient match-making ritual.
Known as “Lovers’ Night,” it is the grand finale of the annual harvest festival in the settlement which belongs to the Amis tribe, the largest of the 16 recognized indigenous groups in Taiwan.
Near the island’s rugged east coast, the village — also known as Fata’an, the name of a local plant, in the Amis language — is a collection of basic, low-lying houses along meandering streets, located in a valley between two mountain ranges.
The harvest festival — which usually runs between June and August, with each village holding it at a different time — is the biggest and most important celebration for the Amis tribe, and in Matai’an it culminates with single women taking their pick of eligible bachelors.
The centuries-old custom is a reflection of the tribe’s matriarchal system, which sees women make key decisions including managing finances and men marry into their wives’ families.
As the singing and dancing men pick up their pace, the women move in behind their chosen love interest and tug on a multicolored cloth bag slung on their target’s shoulder.
To spark interest, the men wiggle and flex their muscles, the most popular among them accruing a queue of interested women.
If a man reciprocates the approach, he will give his bag — known as an “alufu” — to the woman, marking the beginning of a courtship.
In the past, the ritual would commonly lead to marriage and even now still sparks relationships, but it is also a chance for Amis community members who are working in the cities to return and socialize.
“Lovers’ Night is to make friends,” said Cheng Ying-hsuan, 22.
Dressed in a red traditional outfit adorned with green beads and her own sequined alufu, she had returned to the village from the city of Hualien, where she now lives, an hour’s drive away.
When asked if she hoped to find a boyfriend, she laughed and said coyly: “That’s also a possibility.”
Matai’an is one of the biggest Amis settlements and is home to around 500 people — mostly elders and children.
“We like the feeling of everyone coming back together and reconnecting. For us this is the most important,” said Liao Ching-tung, 28, who lives in the capital Taipei.
Each harvest festival, hundreds who have moved away to work or study return to join in the festivities.
The indigenous community — which remains a marginalizedgroup in Taiwanese society — has seen its traditional culture eroded since immigrants started arriving from China centuries ago.
Since President Tsai Ing-wen came to power in May 2016, her government has been pushing for greater indigenous rights and preservation of tribal languages and culture.
But some groups have criticized Tsai for not going far enough and have clashed with authorities over land rights policy, demanding their ancestral areas be returned.
In Matai’an, tradition is alive and kicking.
Lamen Panay, 41, who goes by her tribal name, says the matchmaking event is still meaningful to her even though she is no longer single.
She has a collection of lovers’ bags from past harvest festivals, but has since settled down with her long-term boyfriend, living with him in Taipei.
The couple are both from the village and Lamen still makes a point of picking him out during the matchmaking ritual.
“We are both usually very busy with work,” she said.
“It’s necessary to rekindle the flames.”


Egyptian photographer to take part in exhibition in Germany 

Updated 12 August 2020

Egyptian photographer to take part in exhibition in Germany 

DUBAI: Egyptian photographer Mohamed Hassan is among a long list of international artists who will showcase their work at “Facing Britain,” an exhibition scheduled at Germany’s renowned Museum Goch. 

The fair, set to take place from Sept. 27 to Nov 7, focuses on the period of Britain’s European Union membership between 1963 until 2020. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Beautiful horses Pembrokeshire #wales #documentyourdays #shootpentax

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Hassan, who has been living in Wales since 2007, will showcase his work that he says “aims to challenge some of the stereotypes and judgements that people make about other people.”

“My personal experience as an Egyptian living in Wales for the last 10 years is that I am often judged or stereotyped by my appearance,” Hassan, who is originally from Alexandria, says on his website. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Portrait of an amazing artist @lindanorrisglass Check her work on http://www.linda-norris.com/gallery/

A post shared by Mo Hassan محمد حسن (@mohamed_hassan.photo) on

“During the last few years, as a result of events in the world, I have personal experience of less tolerance of my background with people sometimes behaving very negatively towards me as a fear of Islam and Muslims has grown,” he added. 

Hassan’s art has been exhibited at prestigious galleries including Wales’s Mission Gallery, the Waterfront National Museum, London’s Trajectory Showcase Competition Exhibition and more.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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The exhibition also focuses on the 1970s and 1980s, when artistic documentary photography gained an importance worldwide.

Besides Hassan, the exhibition will also present work of artists from around the world including: James Barnor, John Bulmer, Rob Bremner, Thom Corbishley, Robert Darch, Anna Fox, Henry Grant, Ken Grant, Judy Greenway and many more.