The Hla’alua People number approximately 400 and are mostly distributed in the villages of Gaojhong (高中里) and Taoyuan (桃源里) in Taoyuan District, Kaohsiung City, as well as the village of Maya in Namasia District, Kaohsiung City. There were four (4) main sub-tribal systems or “she” (社) in the Hla’alua Tribe, namely, paiciana she (排剪社), vilanganu she (美壠社), talicia she (塔蠟社), and hlihlara she (雁爾社). All these local community members self-identify themselves as the Hla’alua, whereas the origin of the name “Hla’alua” is still unknown.
According to one version of a Hla’alua legend, the original dwelling place of Hla’alua People used to be in the eastern “hlasunga” where they cohabited with people of small stature. Since time immemorial, these hobbits-like people has regarded “takiaru ” — (「聖貝」)“Sacred Shell” (referring to those holy spirits and sacred presence of the ancestors hiding themselves inside the shell) — as the abode of their “Taizu” (太祖) or “The Ultimate, Original Ancestor” (「貝神」) “Shell God; Shell Deity” — in a collective sense, referring to those holy souls and sacred presence of the ancestors hiding themselves inside the shell. For this reason, in olden time, the Hla’alua People religiously performed large-scale annual ceremonies in honor of the “Shell God” to ask for blessings upon their dwelling abodes, while praying for abundant harvests of field crops and fresh organic produce as well as accelerated multiplying of their tribal people.
Upon leaving their habitual ancestral dwelling and parting with those hobbits-like people, as a farewell gift, the “Hobbits” presented the Hla’alua with a “takiaru Urn” (「甕聖貝」) — referring to those holy souls and sacred presence of the ancestors hiding themselves inside the Urn — whence comes the“miatungusu” or “takiaru Ceremony” (「聖貝祭」). The highest point of such a “Sacred Shell” Rite is reached when the “takiaru ” (「聖貝」) is completely soaked in wine for all participants to carefully observe the tone and color of the “takiaru “: A “Sacred Shell” turning crimson red denotes a heavily and happily drunk “Taizu” (太祖), which signifies complete success of the “miatungusu” thus performed.