The Paiwan converge primarily on the southern end of the Central Range and its eastern coastal mountain area. Believed to originate from Mt. Tawu, they now number approximately 65,000.
Both the Paiwan and Rukai observe a hereditary system of class distinctions among the chieftain, nobility and commoners. Chieftainship and nobility were formerly symbolized through emblems carved into house posts and utensils or special designs on clothing, such as serpentine patterns and the figure of the universe deity. Tattooing was once popular among the Paiwan. The men tattooed their breasts, backs, and arms as a sigh of valor. The women marked the backs of their hands in accordance with their social status and mastery of weaving.