The flying fish season is the most important hunting and fishing season of the Tao tribe. Capturing flying fish is the most crucial thing for local people.
Flying fish has also become the basis of Tao social organization, ritual culture, shipbuilding culture and age-old ritual. Tao people think flying fish are a gift of God.
Rituals and behaviors
There are Rituals for fishing, cutting open, exposure during drying and cooking of flying fish, such as:
(1) Flying fish season opening ceremony:
Around February, a day to pray for a harvest. It was first customary for the tribes to hold the ceremony at Houngtou village, later it was held at other villages.
In the early morning, the tribal men are all dressed up, and the elders lead to their own fishing boat. The captain of the fishing team puts on a silver helmet, gold tablets (breast plate), holds a rooster in his hand, and facing the sea he summons the soul of the flying fish in the hope that flying fish come to the tribal fishing grounds. The crew kills the rooster and pours its blood into a bowl and touches it with his first finger and then smears it on the rock of the beach and whispers a wish. This means: I choose this living stone for you as an object of sacrifice blood blessings. While fishing in the unpredictable sea, please wish me and the descendants to be as tough and long-lived as you.
(2) Flying fish collection season:
Held around June-July, the flying fish season is close to its end. Dry fish are stored for consumption. At the end of the last day of catching flying fish, residents will hang up the biggest fish tails which were caught this year off the coast and from that day on cannot catch flying fish but have to catch other fish species.
(3) The end ceremony of the flying fish season:
Every year after the mid-autumn festival, men go to catch goats and women go to harvest taro, and cook taro and flying fish the next day. Everyone dresses up for the gathering, and after eating, they have to discard the remaining fish or feed them to the pigs. It’s a symbol for keeping away bad luck or unlucky things. Tao people believe that at this moment they should finish all the dry flying fish or give them to relatives, so there will always be flying fish to eat in the future.