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Travel Literature: Travel Writing during Wartime (1938 - 1944)

The Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica, in the years past unearthed a precious collection of the published works in 1938 – 1944 of “Taiwan Shin Min Pao” and its successor “Shing Nan News”, the only newspapers launched by the Taiwanese during the colonial rule of Japan. This piece goes through a selection of the accounts of travel that are of interest and, with the descriptions given by travelers from Taiwan and Japan to be complemented by such colorful collections as photographs, travel tickets, old papers, postcards and others, it invites you to read through the tracks of the travelers in question over tens of thousands of miles across Beijing, Manchukuo, the United States, Germany, Burma and Vietnam and discover the landscapes around a turbulent world in the midst of war from nearly a hundred years ago and the heart-felt worldviews of the travelers.

I. Tainanfu: The Qing Official to Tainan

A Brief History of Tainanfu

In 1602, the Netherlands established the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to explore business prospects in Asia. The Netherlands had invaded Penghu in 1604 and 1622 to occupy a trading spot in East Asia. However, since the Ming Dynasty frequently defended this territory, the VOC retreated from Penghu to Taiwan. Acquiesced by the Ming Dynasty, the Dutch founded Fort Zeelandia and Fort Provintia in Tainan as the trading and administrative centers of it colonization in Southern Taiwan. Even after the Ming Dynasty was replaced by the Qing hegemony in 1644, Ming forces continued to attack and try to reassert power. Among the counter forces, Koxinga (1624-1662), Zheng Cheng-gong, took Taiwan as a base to conquer the Qing Dynasty. In 1661, he defeated Dutch forces by capturing Fort Zeelandia and Fort Provintia. He established Cheng Tian Fu and founded the Zheng Kingdom in Tainan. In 1863, Shi Lang (1621-1696), a Qing official, made a conquest and ceased the Zheng’s 22 years of governance in Taiwan. In 1684, Taiwan was included in the Qing’s territory and its capital city was located in today’s Tainan.

Le fort Zélandia au temps de l'occupation hollandaise. 荷蘭人佔領時期的普羅民遮城(1671年繪)
圖1:Le fort Zélandia au temps de l'occupation hollandaise. A sketch of Fort Zeelandia during Dutch colonization, as portrayed in 1671.
 Source: Identifier: A0231_00_00Taiwan Rare Book Collections

A Brief Journey through Tinanfu

The Qing official Shen Bao-zhen (1820-1879) was born in Fujian, Houguan. After the Mudan Incident broke out in 1874, he was assigned to Taiwan to negotiate with the Japanese army and to reinforce defensible constructions in Taiwan. He not only built artillery batteries in Anping and Kiau but also sent vessels stationed in Taipei, Xiamen, and Fuzhou. He asked the emperor for permission to develop the arable field and to rearrange the administrative divisions. In addition, he built the temple of Koxinga in order to comfort local people. He also commissioned students at the Fuzhou Naval College to draw Taiwan maps and pictures of indigenous customs, creating precious records of Taiwan and the indigenous people at that time.

Figure 2: The main gate of the Koxinga Temple and its statue.
Source: Identifier: A0151_00_00, Taiwan Rare Book Collections
Figure 3: The ruins of Eternal Golden Castle in Anping.
Source: Identifier: A0167_00_00, Taiwan Rare Book Collections
Figure 4: A map of Taiwan in 1875.
Source: Provided by the Palace Museum (Peking)
Figure 5: A portrayal and description of trading between Han Chinese and an indigenous Taiwanese community in the 1870s.
Source: Provided by the Palace Museum (Peking)

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