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Taiwan's oldest tattooed Atayal woman passes away at age 110

Wu Lan-mei (110), who is the eldest in Taiwan original has passed away on Nov. 21, 2008.

Wu Lan-mei (110), who is the eldest in Taiwan original has passed away on Nov. 21, 2008.

The family of Taiwan's oldest Atayal woman with a face tattoo is working to hold a festive ceremony to commemorate the "national treasure, " who passed away last Friday at the age of 110.
Wu Lan-mei, who was tattooed on the face when she was 13 years old, never lived outside the mountainous Hsiangpi village of Taian township in Miaoli County, northern Taiwan. Wu was designated as a living national treasure because of the traditional adornment on her face.
Township officials said all of Wu's tribal acquaintances knew that when they went to visit her, they should take a bottle of wine and pack of cigarettes as a gift.
The hospitable Wu would don her traditional Atayal dress to greet visitors and entertain them by humming ancient Atayal songs and offering them her favorite-drink -- home-made rice wine mixed with Paolyta B energy drink, Wu's 21-year-old grandson Lin Feng-sheng related.
"Each time, I would get drunk before Yaki ("grandmother" in Atayal) did," Lin recalled.
He described Wu as a born optimist who was easily satisfied with a simple meal of wild vegetables and plain rice porridge.
"Yaki would be in great delight as long as she had wine and cigarettes," Lin said.
Before she fell ill and was admitted to hospital two years ago, she always carried a bamboo pipe, Lin added.
According to the local Da Chien General Hospital, Wu contracted pneumonia two years ago and since then had to be admitted to the respiratory care ward several times. She was on a respirator, but her mental faculties remained intact, hospital personnel said.
On Nov. 4, Wu was transferred to an intensive-care unit because her condition had worsened. Her family members decided to take her home on Nov. 21 after Wu displayed symptoms of septicemia and respiratory failure, the hospital said.
Wu passed away at home in her own bed and at peace, her family members said.
"Mother is finally returning to the arms of the ancestors. It is good that she lived a long life, " Wu's daughter Wu Chao-mei said.
Therefore, the family decided to hold a joyful funeral, she added.
A Christian funeral ceremony for the late Wu will be held Sunday in Hsiangpi village, with her more than 100 children and grandchildren expected to attend.
The centenarian will be buried at the Hsiangpi public cemetery, a 10-minute drive from her home, her family members said.
According to Taian township office statistics, the township had nine Atayal people with face tattoos up to two years ago, but that number has now been reduced to four, aged between 85 and 91.
The office plans to produce commemoration stamps featuring their faces, township officials said.
Facial tattooing is a traditional custom of the Atayal -- the second largest aboriginal tribal group in Taiwan after the Amis. The word Atayal means "genuine person" or "brave man."