2009年8月22日 星期六

Faces from the past

These are faces from the past, collected by WA Pickering (1840-1907) in Pioneering in Formosa, Hurst & Blackett, London, 1898, a book read by many. This and other antique books on Taiwan are now available free online (click on the link and search for "formosa" or "sino-french war").
Above: captioned as a Hoklo man [福佬人] in Pickering's book; although this gentleman looks more like a Hakka Hillman, the headgear and breastplate are a tip-off. Hoklo men wore only pre-fashioned hats if at all. It is unclear whether he was holding a rod, pipe or an arrow. On the point of the arrow: it is often erroneously assumed that the Aborigines in Taiwan hunted with bow and arrow. They were actually avid users of firearms acquired from each generation of traders.

Aborigines of northern Taiwan [of an un-identified tribe] [北台灣山地人]

A group of Pinpuhuan [平埔番] and Chinese [Hoklo]

Pinpuhuan [in Han attire]

These are indeed precious images. Pickering's description of Danshui, on the other hand, was surprisingly ordinary, given so much was already known by the late 1890s. Excerpts here:

"Pursuing our course northwards up the western coast, we now reach the port of Tamsui, or 'Fresh-water-town.' This port would seem to have a better future before it, as it has a more accessible harbour, and therefore greater facilities for trade. The anchorage, however, is insecure, being formed of shifting sand. The town lies between a double-peaked hill on the south-west [觀音山], which has an elevation of about 1,700 feet, and the Tamsui range of mountains [大屯山], which rise to the height of 2,800 feet and extend far into the interior.

A small river [淡水河], issuing from a gorge, empties itself into the harbour. This river has its source near the city of Bangkah or Mangkia, one of the largest and most exclusive of the northern towns of the island. Upon a hill on the right bank of the Tamsui River there is an old Dutch fort [紅毛城], part of which is now used as a consular residence, of which one can find no European account, and which itself bears no inscription of record of the past. It is in a fair state of preservation, though damp and deserted, and said by the natives to be haunted. It serves as a guide to the entrance to the harbour.

The rainfall is heavy in Tamsui and the whole of northern Formosa, thus rendering the air cold and humid."

And a little about Pickering himself (from the beginning of Chapter One):

"In the year 1862 I was third mate on a Liverpool tea clipper lying off Pagoda Island, in the river Min, some nine miles below the City of Foochow. I was twenty-two years of age, and I had been on the sea since the year 1856, when my indentures were signed, and I, a shivering lad, was handed over to work out a four years' apprenticeship on board one of the old Blackwall East Indiamen..."

After Taiwan/China, in 1872, Pickering was invited to Singapore, largely because he could speak fluent Mandarin Chinese and Hokkien [plus three other different dialects]. He was needed to control the problems posed by the secret Chinese societies and was able to do so by earning the trust of the local Chinese. In 1877, he was appointed the first Protector of the Chinese Protectorate. However, in 1887, he was attacked and severely wounded by an assassin sent by the Ghee Hok [義和] Society, a Teochew潮州 carpenter named Chua Ah-Siok [蔡阿俗?], but had survived. The injuries forced him to retire in 1889 and he died eight years later. Pickering Street near Singapore's Chinatown Point [not Chinatown itself] is named after him.

9 則留言:

  1. I'm glad you've picked up on Pickering. Anyone interested in Formosa should read "Pioneering in Formosa: Recollections of Adventures Among Mandarins and Wreckers", written by Formosa's Daniel Boone. I was looking around the Web to find an online copy. I only came up with this: http://books.google.com/books?id=s-XJtgDN-zkC&pg=PA253&dq=Pickering+W.A.+Formosa+Taiwan#v=onepage&q=&f=false

    If your google fu is better than mine, you should be able to procure a complete copy. It's way past the copyright zone. Thanks eyedoc for bringing attention to it. I put Pickering up with the other seven must-reads for those interested in Formosa's development:

    1. Banzai You Bastards, by Jack Edwards
    2. Formosa Betrayed, by George Kerr
    3. A Taste of Freedom, by Peng Ming-min
    4. Statecraft and Political Economy on the Taiwan Frontier, by John Shepherd
    5. Formosa, Under the Dutch, by W.M. Campbell
    6. Elegy of Sweet Potatoes: Stories of Taiwan's White Terror, By Tsai Teh-pen

    No. 6 is a bit of an enigma. I have written to the publisher, trying to get more about this author, but never got a response. I've also checked in at many bookstores seeking a Chinese version, but have always come up short. His book deserves more attention.

  2. Thanks for the list, Patrick.

    The said Pickering's book (all 358 pages) is available here:

    The author of No 6 is 蔡德本 (1925- ). The original version was in Japanese 台湾のいもっ子 published in 1994 in Japan. The Chinese version 蕃薯仔哀歌 was in 1995, available at 台灣e店 (http://www.taiouan.com.tw/catalog/). English version, which you already know, was published in 2000. Mr Tsai was imprisoned in 1954 (hence the book). He now lives in Tainan.

  3. thanks for the list
    how about add "Formosa Calling" in the list?

  4. This one is also available online, just google the book title.

  5. Thanks for the information on Tsai. I wanted the book in Chinese for my wife. I asked at a lot of stores, but couldn't come up with anything.

    Tsai served in WWII (navy, I think) and then went to the US to study. When he returned to Taiwan, he was satisfied to teach English in his hometown. In the evenings he hung out with his friends, playing Chinese chess in the backyard. He was hardly a revolutionary. What got him in trouble was the interesting books he had in his bookshelf. The Elegy... is a fascinating, detailed (even anthropological) look at Taiwan's jails and the people the KMT stuffed them full of during the 1950s, the era of White Terror. It's very well-written too.

    I was surprised to find out that Tsai is in Tainan. Where'd you find that? I'll try to contact him again. Any suggestions?

  6. This book has been the topic of an article in:

    At the end of the comments section, there is a recent review of Mr Tsai.

  7. I need to direct attention to him on my blog. People should read his book.

  8. Actually, what I want to do is interview Mr. Tsai in English. I just need to find him.

  9. Mr. Tsai Teh-pen can be contacted at 06 213 0258