The Ear-Shooting Festival is a traditional Bunun custom, and is also known as Ma-naq-tainga and Ma-naq-titi. It is held in April and May every year, and is the most important and grand celebration of the Bunun Tribe throughout the year. The Ear-Shooting Festival is a coming-of-age ceremony for Bunun men, which aims to strengthen the unity and inward-developing force within their ethnic group. Boys are able to participate until they are six or seven years old, while women are prohibited from participating.
The Ear-Shooting Festival, of which the Chinese word means “hunting ears”, pays particular emphasis on the ears of the prey, as they have important symbolic significance. According to the traditions of the Ear-Shooting Festival, adult men in the tribe need to go up the mountain to hunt. Prey can include wild boars, bears, and mountain deer. The hunted mountain deer is particularly regarded as a hero. Older men can also demonstrate their personal abilities, gain community recognition and consolidate their status through the Ear-Shooting Festival.
Ear-Shooting Festivals are generally held in public squares in tribal settlements, or in the courtyards of clan chiefs. During the days leading up to the Ear-Shooting Festival, Bunun men start hunting up in the mountains, while women stay at home to make wine and prepare for the celebration. At 3 or 4 in the morning on the day of the Ear-Shooting Festival, the elderly of the tribe summon young men and boys who are participating in the ceremony. The ceremony is divided into four parts: lighting of a fire → spear offering → animal meat offering → reporting deeds (brave deeds). The event ends after everyone has reported their heroic exploits.
Most Bunun celebrations exclude outsiders from participating, but the Ear-Shooting Festival allows people outside the tribe to participate in the feast. When observing and admiring the unity and brave activities of the Bunun tribe, remember to follow and respect the rules of the tribe!