The Thao, a deer hunting tribe, also known for their beautiful people, is a small ethnic group in the mountains of Taiwan. According to the legend, while their ancestors were hunting in the mountains of Alishan, they saw a white deer and chased after it to another mountain with a vast forest. They discovered a lake (known today as Sun Moon Lake). The lake was filled with fish and the area was full of wild animals. Since then, the Thao settled down at Sun Moon Lake. It became the best hunting grounds for the tribe and they mainly lived off on the fish in the lake. The tribe believed that the ancestral spirits led them to this promised land. Thus, Sun Moon Lake became the settlement for the Thao. Generations after generations have lived there, and today they have a history of over 300 years.
In 1950, President Chiang Kai-Shek went to Sun Moon Lake. Chief Mao Xin-Xiao wore his traditional tribal clothing to meet President Chiang. The President enjoyed the unique tribal dances and the most natural features of the mountains. He was extremely interested and kept giving compliments. Chief Mao greatly admired President Chiang’s merits and achievements, and President Chiang also developed a closer relationship with the tribe (at that time Chiang’s government just took over Taiwan). When he and Chief Mao were having a good talk, he dubbed the chief as a Royal Lord. At that time, Chief Mao’s daughter, Yu-Juan Mao, led the group of dancers, and she was then addressed by everyone as the Princess of the Royal Mao Family.
Since the Thao is the ethnic minority of a more matriarchal tribe, the princesses generation after generation are more famous than the princes, and they receive more support from the tribe. The current, which is the fourth generation, Princess of the Royal Mao Family is the great granddaughter, Zhi-Hui Mao. Until 1998, in order for the Chinese Television Service (CTS) to shoot a series that tells the story about this small ethnic group, they came up with the title Searching for the Princess which is about the origin of the Thao Princess and the special and mysterious characteristics of the Royal Mao Family.
No wonder the happiness of living in the mountains is so tranquil and content. Sun Moon Lake is almost like a utopia with beautiful sceneries and rich resources where the residents live happily and peacefully. However, the severe earthquake on September 21 in 1999 violently shook the Thao and Sun Moon Lake. At that time, the population of the Thao was less than 300. That tragic story is still very painful even to this day. Their homes in the mountains collapsed, they were unable to sell their products and they faced a lot of other problems. The residents were quite discouraged.
At this time, Princess Zhi-Hui Mao, who returned from studying abroad, suggested to go to Taipei, hoping to find a suitable place to promote the culture and products of the mountainous areas. Finally, on March 6 1991, after a lot of effort and organizing, she settled here on Mingshui Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City. She used our unique culture to encourage visitors to come and she sold our natural products to help reconstruct our homes.
For the past 13 years, Princess Mao’s House has gradually become popular not only among the locals but also people from Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and so forth. Big thanks to those who have helped us along the way. You are all a member of Princess Mao’s Family. In order to maintain our business, we hope to continue providing our services to the tribe and helping society.
Written by, Yu-Juan Mo