Figure 1

Miling’an- Musical Theatre of Myth and Legend
A Story of the “Seed of Life”  [1]

Taiwan’s first international, indigenous landscape drama, Miling’an fuses state-of-the-art technology with the rites and rituals of ancient Indigenous culture. The performance space, a custom-built venue constructed in the middle of Taipei’s metropolis, draws inspiration from the traditional Paiwan circular ceremonial ground. Acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou made this format of performance famous in China with his Impressions series set at some of China’s most prominent scenic attractions such as the Lijiang River in Guilin, the Li River in Yunnan, Hangzhou, Hainan, and the Wuyi Mountains in  ( Figure 1: round ceremonial performance space of Miling’an)


Once upon a time, there was a powerful sorceress from the Paiwan tribe of the Dawu Mountain who needed only one grain of millet from the heavens to prepare meals that could feed the entire tribe. But one day a greedy tribesman poured a large quantity of millet into the pot. Suddenly the heavens and the earth shook violently and the spell of the magical millet disappeared forever. A feeling of helplessness overcame the Paiwan people as they scattered all over the country, laboring to cultivate the land in order to survive.


One day, the Sun God came down to Earth and spawned an egg. From this egg, a divine Paiwan spirit child was born. The people of the tribes called her Vusum, the Life Seed. Vusum led the Paiwan people for thousands of years. Under her spirited tutelage, the people learned humility, respect and peace and returned to the ancient ways of the Austronesian Paiwan culture.


The past and the present. The past is set about 5,000 years ago. The present is the Liangshan Village in Pingtung during the 1980’s Nationalist Government era.

Historical Background of Miling’an

Over the past century, the Paiwan people have been under incessant foreign influence, the Fukienese, Dutch, Japanese and then the Nationalists. The August 8, 2009, Typhoon Morakot, the deadliest typhoon recorded in Taiwan, resulted in the complete destruction of some of the tribes. Now the “life seed” that connects mountain to man and man to his ancestral spirits has almost vanished as a result of natural and man made disasters, hence it becoming the idiom of survival.

Objectives of Miling’an

For many of Taiwan’s Aborigines, job opportunities are limited to vocations such as nurse, police, military, construction and farm laborers, and, even for such low-level employment, they are forced to leave their homelands for urban areas, resulting in the loss of connection to their culture as well as the collapse of Aboriginal life and society in the villages.

When there are opportunities for Aborigines to be employed in cultural work, they are seldom given management positions, and the portrayals of Aboriginal culture offered in museums, cultural centers, and other venues are mostly clichéd and superficial, with performances almost entirely limited to shallow presentations of Aboriginal song-and-dance routines.

In this production, we use the metaphor of the millet seedling to ignite the cultural presence of Taiwan’s indigenous people and as a foundation for creating a deeper expression of Aboriginal heritage and art. By raising the standard of public awareness about the great and heretofore untapped potential of Aboriginal performance, we hope to create more employment opportunities for them, just as Zhang Yi-mou’s Impression series did for the local people in the surrounding areas of each Impression show. We plan to also replicate this project model to even more of Taiwan’s aborigine tribes so that more and more tribal people can base their livelihoods on their existing culture and skills and thus be able to more robustly rebuild their traditional cultural and economic structures.

Key Elements of Miling’an


Millet, which is the scared grain that has nurtured the ancient culture of the Paiwan

A sacred ceremonial ground

A sorceress whose voice is the orphic spirit of Divine Force

A sacred song of tears

An encounter between a young Paiwan heiress and a soldier

An ancient, mystical necklace

An egg, spawned by the Sun God

A squad of night warriors that dart amongst the audience

Special Effects

Over the duration of the performance, over one ton of millet will rain down upon the sacred sun altar.  This deluge is both a visual feast as well as a harbinger of abundant blessings.

Figure 2: millet rain

Both 3D surround sound and multiple sound sources will be used to dramatically correspond with the performance.

Lighting and multimedia components will create celestial winds, rain, thunder and lightning and multimedia effects and projections will dramatize the movements of nature’s eternal sky, deep forests, and tranquil waters and are interactive with the performers.


Performance material comes directly out of original tribal culture of the past and present. Through the unique circular ceremonial ground, multimedia effects, symphonic orchestration and ceremonial physical interpretation, a unique story telling approach for indigenous landscape drama, is created.

About Resres

Resres Livuivuwan is the star performer of Miling’an who will appear on stage as oracle and sorceress and whose voice will also feature in many other scenes.

Resres’ voice has been hailed by many as the embodiment of Paiwan spirit, steeped with the ancient power of the mountains and flowing with the movements of the wind, thunder, lightning, and rain.

Resres was the recipient of the 15th Golden Melody Awards for the Traditional and Art Category and performed at the National Palace Museum’s Imperial Treasures exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna in 2008 while acting as the spokesperson for the national treasury of Taiwanese art.

Resres is one of the most important figures in Taiwan’s Aboriginal music industry and is the rare Aboriginal artist who has introduced traditional indigenous music into modern theater performance. She has toured and performed at many important art festivals internationally.

[1] “Miling’an” means “myth” in the Paiwan Language

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6 Responses to “About Miling’an”

  1. NICE ! ! !

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