Symbol of Love
Rukai (魯凱族) tribesmen give these to women to show affection. When a man sees the girl of his dream, he'll have his mother make one of these millet or black millet spray bundles. Then he'll give it to the girl and she'll hang it on her wall in the living room. If there are lots of them already hanging on her wall, then the guy will know that he has lots of competition, so a smart guy will first go and check out how decorated the wall is. If the girl and her family like the guy, they'll let him work for the family for a few years and then let him marry into the family later on. The Rukai tribe is a matriarchal society.
The black millet festival (黑米節) in Duona (高雄茂林多納部落) is this weekend, and visitors will get to make their own black millet spray bundles.
As for black millet, it is supposedly unique to Duona. The legend is, one day a tribeswoman went into the field to work, bringing her baby like any other day. She left the baby in the field like she and others always do and started to do her work, moving further and further away. But on this day, the baby disappeared. Everyone searched everywhere, but the baby could not be found. Days later, the god of the sea to the Rukais appeared to her in a dream. It said, "here is some black millet. When you have successfully made it into a crop for the village, your son will be returned to you." Decades later, she finally did it, and her son returned a grown man.
Today, the black millet is also used as a charm to keep people safe from harm, and is taken as a food. Its shell is black, but white on the inside. It is a glutinous rice and is chewier than most other kinds of glutinous rice.
Canon Kiss X3
EF 35mm f/1.4L USM