Also known as: Amis

The Ami lived on the eastern coast of Taiwan, and have historically been the largest single group of Taiwanese aborigines.

Show Map of Location

Traditional Culture(1875-1900)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Chen & Coe (1954), pp. 250-251
Er-wei (1974), pp. 120
Nature god(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Chen & Coe (1954), pp. 250-251
Er-wei (1974), pp. 115, 118, 121
Ancestral spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Chen & Coe (1954), pp. 249-262, 250-251
Er-wei (1974), pp. 115-122, 119
Deified ancestor(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Chen & Coe (1954), pp. 250-251, 261
God(s) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Chen & Coe (1954), pp. 250-251
Er-wei (1974), pp. 115

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Er-wei (1974), pp. 118, 119

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife Principal determinant of one's afterlife (Source)
Er-wei (1974), pp. 115-116
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife Absent (Source)
Er-wei (1974), pp. 115-116
Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and creationist (Source)
Er-wei (1974), pp. 118

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Er-wei (1974), pp. 119

Classes of Tapu

Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Mabuchi (1971), pp. 133


Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Blevins (2008)
Keesing (1984)
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Blevins (2008)
Keesing (1984)
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Present (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 121
Size of largest ritual social group Larger than a household, no larger than the local community (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 120-122
Political and religious differentiation Considerable overlap between religious and political leaders (Source)
Chen & Coe (1954)
Social Environment +
Population 30,000 (Source)
Alvarez (1927)
Population of largest political community 1,000-9,999 (Source)
Mabuchi (1971), pp. 133
Lebar (1975), pp. 118
Importance of Patrilateral descent Low (Source)
Strouthes (1993A), pp. 257
Importance of Matrilateral descent High (Source)
Strouthes (1993A), pp. 257
Polygamy Monogamy prescribed (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 119
Marital residence Matrilocal or uxorilocal - with wife's kin (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 119


Conflict between communities of the culture Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Mabuchi (1971), pp. 133
Conflict with other cultures Common, at least every five years (Source)
Er-wei (1974), pp. 116, 118
Cultural Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 117
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 0.0 (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 116
Distance to African or Asian mainland (km) 306.7 (Source)
Blundell (2000), pp. 44, 182
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Pre-Austronesian population Present: Clear evidence of human occupation prior to Austronesian settlement (Source)
Bellwood (1995), pp. 109
Hindu / Buddhist influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. 2.21
Islamic influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. 2.23
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Minor (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 118
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Absent (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 118
Land-based gathering Absent (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 118
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Medium (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 118
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 118

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Medium (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 118
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Medium (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 118
Water-based gathering Absent (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 118

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Absent (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 118-119
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture One (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 116

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Latitude 23.7 (Source)
Blundell (2000), pp. 44, 182
Chiu (2007)
Longitude 121.5 (Source)
Blundell (2000), pp. 44, 182
Google Maps (2014)
Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Continental island (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Taiwan) (2014)
Island Size (km²) 32260.0 (Source)
Ding et al (2005), pp. 300
Maximum elevation (meters) 3952.0 (Source)
Ding et al (2005), pp. 300
Post Contact History(1900-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +


Role of social status in conversion process Mixed / Neither (Source)
Shiun-wey (2003), pp. 262-364
Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
Shiun-wey (2003), pp. 262-266
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Shiun-wey (2003), pp. 263-264
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 117
Shiun-wey (2003), pp. 260
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 117
Foreign education systems High (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Taiwan) (2014)

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Present and widely used (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Taiwan) (2014)
Air travel Present and long-distance (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Taiwan) (2014)
Sea port Present (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Taiwan) (2014)

Loss of Autonomy

Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Lebar (1975), pp. 117
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Unofficial religious syncretism Medium (Source)
Shiun-wey (2003), pp. 265-266
Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Shiun-wey (2003), pp. 277
External Links
Alvarez, J.M. (1927). The Aboriginal Inhabitants of Formosa. (With Map). Anthropos, 22:1-2, 247-258. Retrieved from

Bellwood, P. (1995). Austronesian Prehistory in Southeast Asia: Homeland, Expansion and Transformation. P. Bellwood, J.J. Fox, & D. Tryon (Eds.), The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives (pp 113-114). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.

Blevins, J. (2008). Some Comparative Notes on Proto-Oceanic *Mana: Inside and Outside the Austronesian Family. Oceanic Linguistics, 47 (2), 253-274. Retrieved from

Blundell, D. (Ed.). (2000). Austronesian Taiwan: Linguistics, History, Ethnology, Prehistory. Taipei: SMC Publishing Inc.

Blust, R. (2007). Proto-Oceanic *Mana Revisited. Oceanic Linguistics, 46(2), 404-423. Retrieved from

Brunton, R. (1989). The Abandoned Narcotic: Kava and Cultural Instability in Melanesia. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Chen, C. & Coe, M.D. (1954). An Investigation of Ami Religion. Quarterly Journal of the Taiwan Museum, 8 (3-4), 249-262).

Chiu, H. (2007). The colonial 'civilizing process' in Dutch Formosa 1624-1662. Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV.

Cribb, R. (2000). Historical atlas of Indonesia. Surrey, UK: Curzon Press.

Daft Logic Area Calculator. (2014). Retrieved from:

Daft Logic Distance Calculator. (2014).

Ding, T., Yuan, H., Geng, S., Lin, Y. & Li, P. (2005). Energy flux, Body Size and Density in Relation to Bird Species Richness Along an Elevational Gradient in Taiwan. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 14 (4), 299-306. DOI: 10.1111/j.1466-822X.2005.00159.x

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Taiwan). (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from

Er-wei, J. T. (1974). Notes on the religious beliefs and rituals of the Ami of Formosa. Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society, Vol. 2, No. 3 (SEPTEMBER 1974), pp. 115-122.

Ethnologue (Map of Taiwan). (2014). Map of Taiwan. Ethnologue. Retrieved from

Google Maps (2014). Retrieved from

Keesing, R. M. (1984). Rethinking "mana". Journal of Anthropological Research, 40(1), 137-156,

Lebar, F. (Ed.). (1975). Ethnic Groups of Insular Southeast Asia. Volume 2: Philippines and Formosa. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files Press.

Mabuchi, T. (1971). The Aboriginal Peoples of Formosa. In G.P. Murdock (Ed.), Social Structure in Southeast Asia (pp 127-141). New York, NY: Johnson Reprint Corporation.

Shiun-Wey, H. (2003). Accepting the Best, Revealing the Difference: Borrowing and Identity in an Ami Village. In P. Clart & C.B. Jones (Eds.), Religion in Modern Taiwan: Tradition and Innovation in a Changing Society. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

Strouthes, D. (1993A). Taiwan Aboriginal Peoples. In P. Hockings (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of World Cultures Volume V: East and Southeast Asia (pp 256-258). New York, NY: G.K. Hall & Co.