A Social Organization of the basic level— “She”

“She” is a unit of social organization at the basic level in Gaoshan ethnic group. At first, it is a clan’s organization based on blood relationship, and later gradually develops into a social organization of one or several clans, which lives in compact communities and is tied up by blood relationship and geographical region. The name of “She” starts to be used during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

At that time, the Gaoshan villages are called “Fan She” or “She”. The boundary between “She” is clearly demarcated. Every “She” has got its own name, and elects its own head. Within one “She”, people share the common living customs and economic benefits in the common inhabited region. People are bonded together with their common faith and practice of offering sacrifices. The members undertake the obligations of working in unity and helping each other. The scale of “She” varies, from several and dozens of household to several hundred and thousands of. Also, the big “She” can have jurisdiction over smaller “She”.

As for the number of “She”, Taiwan Province Survey in Qing Dynasty records that there are 409 “She” altogether at that time. Later on, they merge into 30 “mountain villages”, under the jurisdiction of 12 counties respectively. Nowadays, though the name of “She” already passes out of existence, its function and influence, especially people’s concept about “She”, have never totally disappeared.