Taiwan Folklore

Taiwan Parables & Stories

Taiwan has a multitude of folklore, parables, tales and mythologies some of which have important traditional meanings, culture and religious values. The stories mark the tales of well-known landmarks and Taiwan legends. Their stories separate the Taiwanese culture from all the others.

Since most of these stories have been handed down through generations by word of mouth, the stories can appear to be slightly different depending on who you have heard it from. Overtime these stories have been written down and shared online with an effort to preserve them as they are a part of Taiwanese history. They have also been translated into English and various other languages so they can be understood and celebrated worldwide.The three most popular stories are:


Central Taiwan Photo

The Legend Of Sun-Moon Lake

This tale begins with the Taiwan Shao tribe who lived a nonviolent and joyful lifestyle. They lived through hunting, fishing and growing various food to harvest. One day the sun had disappeared from the sky so they decided to work at night time by the light of the moon. Then the moon disappeared from the sky. The tribe were unaware of why this had happened. They were scared as their crops, animals and fish needed the sun and moon to sustain their life.

Two people decided that they had fallen into the valley and needed to go out and search for them. They travelled across the island over mountains and lakes when they reached the valley they still could not find it. One of the members saw in the distance the lake which glowed. They discovered that two dragons had taken the moon and sun to play with.



The young couple discovered a cave between some rocks and an elderly lady appeared to them. She sent them on a quest to find a golden scissors and a golden axe which would be used to kill the dragons. They went travelling again to a place called Ali Mountain and dug for three days until they found the treasure. They ran back and threw the weapons at the dragons, the axe cut off one of the dragon’s heads and blood filled into the river. The sun and moon floated on top.

The Elderly Woman Said,

‘You must eat the eyeballs of the dragons to gain enough strength and grow tall enough to place the sun and moon back into the sky.’

The couple ate the eyeballs and turned into giants. They attempted to throw the sun and moon in the sky but they would not stay up. So they placed the sun and moon on the tallest palm trees. Eventually the sun and moon returned into their normal rotations. The crops grew back and the animals returned.

The Legend Of Muddy River

The longest river in Taiwan is named Zhuo Shun Xu. This river provides fresh water that is used to grow fresh food to harvest. Within this legend the river was originally named Qing Shu Xi which is translated to Clearwater River in English. Next to the river lived a man, he lived contently by living in a hut and earned his living through farming the land.

One day whilst working he saw a leopard, running through his field holding a rabbit. The man wanted to save the rabbit and hit the leopard over the head with a hoe. The man took the time to nurture and heal it back to health. One day while tending the field he developed a big hunger he said out loud “I wish I had some sweet fruit to eat” and he heard a voice say

“I’ll give you a seed which you shall plant in the ground. It will grow the sweet fruit which you desire all over the mountain”.

A woman appeared and gave him the seed, she stayed with him and did chores around the house to earn her keep.The fruit grew and they lived happily together. One day the woman disappeared, he could not find her anywhere. He heard someone sobbing nearby that she had been kidnapped and taken to the mountain. He ran to the lake, a fruit fell down cracked in half and turned into a bridge. He ran across it into the mountain.

Through the mountain he met a man who gave him a basket and axe. He came across a house and heard her crying inside, he used the axe to break open the house door.  The bad guys came after him with weapons. He hid nearby with the lady and the old man he had come across said to the men “He went down the ratten”. The men began to chop down the ratten and accidently fell in the river. They struggled in the river and the water turned muddy which is why the name of the river was called ZhuoShu Xi which means Muddy Water River in English.

Rukai Aboriginal Tribe Taiwan Photo

The Aboriginal Hero

An aborigine tribe named TaiYa lived in serenity, untroubled and pleasant lifestyle. They lived of what the land produced through hunting, fishing and farming. When Taiwan was under the rule of Japan for thirty years they existed under tough conditions.The Atayal tribe suffered for many years under the harsh rule of the Japanese. Eventually, this tribe revolted and fought for their freedom. Many lives were lost.

This famous "Wu-She" incident inspired many Taiwanese to stand up against Japanese rule. A wedding ceremony was being prepared so chief Mo Na Dao and his son went to help the family prepare for the celebrations. When they were setting up a Japanese policemen appeared. He was scared that the policeman would ruin the wedding and in an effort to be friendly he offered the policeman to stay.



The son pulled on the policeman’s clothes to bring him in to sit down, but instead placed blood from his hands onto the man’s shirt. This angered the policeman, slapped the son’s face and a fist fight between them broke out. He threatened that he would tell the Japanese troops about this and stormed out of the house. A teacher named Hua Gong who witness the event said

“We Have No Weapons Which Will Defeat Their Guns And Bombs. But We Have Tolerated Enough Misery Under Their Rule.”

Many Taiwan tribes grouped together to perform an attack during the schooled athletic event. One of the aborigines ran up to the Japanese general and sliced of his head. At this very precise moment another group of aborigines rush the police station. Since the police had no warning, they were unable to protect themselves. They continued to kill and capture all the Japanese in the Wu She area whilst taking away all their weapons.

During the battle, a Japanese commander threatened the tribe with poisonous gas but they would not surrender. Mo Na Dao said

“I Would Rather Kill Myself Than Die At The Hands Of The Japanese”.

Mo Na Dao shot himself with a hand gun and the rest of the TaiYa tribe followed. This story is what motivated Taiwan to battle against the Japanese for their land.