Ocean, waves and literature

by on Monday, 21 February 2011 Comments

*2011 Life Sustainability Awards Recipient*

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Syaman Rapongan is from the Tao minority on Lanyu (Orchid Island) off the southeast coast of Taiwan. He writes about the intimate relationship between his people and the ocean.

Syaman Rapongan sees it as his mission in life to write about his real life experiences with the ocean. Whether through reading his works or by talking to the man himself, he has an alluring charisma which impels readers to find out more about his oceanic literature.


In the 80s, Syaman Rapongan became a pioneer for various aboriginal social movements; from land rights, autonomy, education and aboriginal name rectification to anti-nuclear waste disposal on Lanyu.

Towards end of the 80s, Syaman Rapongan returned to his Lanyu home and threw himself into every aspect of the tribe’s lifestyle. He now engages in activities such as fishing, shipbuilding, and diving.

From 2004 to 2005, Syaman Rapongan twice sailed to sea in a traditional dugout canoe, becoming the first known to venture the South Pacific in such a way.

[inset side="right" title="“The ocean"] waves have memory and life. To catch a gigantic fish is nothing extraordinary; what is truly amazing is that the ocean remembers you and the sea gods smell your body odour.” Recollection of the Waves[/inset]

In recent years, Syaman Rapongan’s writings have been gaining international attention in literature circles and his novels are currently being translated in Europe and in Japan.

Syaman Rapongan says that there are so many wonderful subject-matters in aboriginal literature that are just waiting to be written down. Regardless of how mature the works of literature may be, they have started talking and opening the door for dialogue between indigenous people and the rest of the world.


Syaman Rapongan (夏曼‧藍波安)

2011第三屆「生命永續獎」得獎者-夏曼‧藍波安(海洋文學作家)Syaman Rapongan 


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