National Geographic : 1956 Feb
Most of them also wore glovelike sleeves from wrist to elbow, and some wrapped their legs in spiral puttees. Inquiring, we found that this dress derives, not from modesty, but from need for protec tion against wind, dirt, and sun (page 276). Partly, too, it reflects vanity; light complex ions, we learned, are greatly prized. Social events where young people can dis play their carefully protected complexions, however, are few indeed. Such occasions con sist mainly of religious festivals and similar celebrations. Only in Makung is there a movie house. Along every road we were forcibly struck by the humble existence of the people. Every body must work for a meager living; there is little class distinction. The infertile land and serious lack of water preclude anything but the barest subsistence form of agriculture. Each individual seed and plant must be protected from the searing salt-laden winds. Although some cattle are used as beasts of burden, most cultivation is done by man and woman power-not excepting the children, who work alongside their parents. There are schools in the villages, but work comes first. The only tools available on most tiny holdings are primitive hoes and sickles. Smiles Undimmed by Hardships Despite the rigors of island living, the peo ple have ready smiles. Young folk laugh and joke as they work together, especially at har vest and planting time. Much of the work is communal, or at least is done by several members of the same family. Until the advent of commercial aviation, the islands were almost completely isolated from both the mainland and Formosa itself. Under prewar Japanese rule, when the Pesca dores served as a naval base, neither immigra tion nor emigration was encouraged. Outside Makung few houses have electric ity, so there is little temptation to stay up past sunset, even without the military curfew which was in effect when we were there. Social life is usually confined to the limits of each little village, though good roads connect them with the capital. Most village homes, we found, huddle to gether around a central square, with pigpens, cow stalls, and chicken cages an integral part of the house compound. Chickens and ducks run at will through doorways, picking up stray bits of food dropped by the children, who always seem to be eating. 274 From the main island of Penghu we crossed to Paisha over a causeway that ties with the intermediate small island of Chungtun.