Maolin's Three Black Treasures

When traveling in Maolin in the winter, there are three dark things you can pay special attention to: black rice, the traditional Rukai stone-slab housing, and purple crow butterflies.

Every year from December to March of the following year, purple crow butterflies in northern and central Taiwan migrate south to places such as the valleys of Maolin in Kaohsiung.

Chen Cheng, Butterfly Expert:
The best time to watch butterflies is from 8am when the sun is up until noon. When the weather is nice, they・ll come out of the valleys to drink water and get some sun.

There are only two mass butterfly movements in the world - one in Mexico and the other here. And as these butterflies bathe in the sun and sip on fresh nectar, they・re also practically posing for photos. The trick is to stay in one place and just wait for them to spread their wings. They take their time, so you can take yours too.

This is Duona, a Rukai village, where tribespeople seem to be busy tying together black millet at the moment.

Only we have black millet rice. They・re black on the outside and white on the inside. When a man falls in love with a woman, his mother will make these millet bouquets for him to bring to her house. It・s a show of affection.

Speaking of the Rukai, their traditional home is made of mostly slate. Ma-le, a local artist, built this house. He says most of the time is spent gathering the material and that sometimes it takes one to two years, but putting it all together only takes three months at most with the help of other villagers.

Ma-le, Artist:
These are designed to keep invaders at bay, and to keep temperature levels from fluctuating. The low roof forces visitors to bow when entering the house, so as they・re coming in, they・re paying respect to the host at the same time.

Purple crow butterflies, black millet and slate houses make up the three :black treasures; of Maolin. But while you・re here, don・t forget about the landscape in the background, for they・re part of the attraction, and the reason why directors and photographers like shoot and film here.

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