History through the words of others.

“Cultural differences should not separate us from each other,

but rather cultural diversity brings a collective strength that can benefit all of humanity” 

by Robert Alan.

Learning all about the history of Taiwan- from politics, art, religion, and much more- has felt like reading a bedtime story. I have learned much about this beautiful country in a small amount of time from the words of locals, teachers, and landmark information.

On a trip to Anping (a district West of Tainan), we visited the most literal tree house I have ever seen. It is basically half a building, coiled with banyan tree branches. According to the plaques around the landmark, it had been a salt warehouse before being abandoned. However, locals had stories of the place being haunted or how one tiny seed grew these trees around the warehouse for protection. Although they may have just been folktales, they brought the landmark to life. Suddenly, walking from room to room felt eerie and rich in history. I imagined what it would have been like walking through the building before the overgrowth of trees and could not wrap my mind around how long these branches would have taken to grow in such a way!

Taiwan has large Buddhist and Taoist communities, so Tainan city is dotted with multiple temples. My favorite temple visit was the Grand Mazu temple, not only because of its beauty but because of the history behind the Goddess Mazu- patroness of the sea. The tragic story (in summary) told by a lecturer at NCKU goes about a young girl in the late 10th century, holding a lamp on the cliff edge of Meizhou Island during a terrible storm, eagerly awaiting the return of her father at sea. Sadly, her father did not return that night; however, her light led the way back to shore for many people stuck at sea during that storm. Her sadness caused her to sacrifice her life, but her body was later found with her father on the shore. It is a heart-wrenching story that stuck with me. Whenever I see a temple dedicated to Mazu, I am reminded of her bravery, love, and perseverance.

I had a little impromptu solo adventure to the National Museum of Taiwan literature after accidentally getting off at the wrong bus stop on the way to Church (oops). The museum was a literature-themed art gallery with exhibitions on poetry, animals, the building’s history, stamps, and so much more! I could have spent much longer there if it weren’t for our busy university schedule. Luckily, I still have another 3 weeks to come back and visit. My favorite exhibition was definitely ‘Taiwanese literature between animals and humans.’ There was interactive art and these giant beautiful card-cut artworks on animals throughout history in relation to society.

A kind gallery worker explained the specific meanings behind the artwork and showed me things people usually miss in the writing and art around this particular showroom. Although I couldn’t understand everything the man said- I got the main points of how differently animals were viewed and treated years ago compared to now by different people. Again, there was a personal take on the artwork from this man’s perspective, making me look at the art in a different light.

Finally… Chihkan tower. It was built during the Dutch colonization era and has a lot of political and historical stories behind it. If you read my last blog post, you would know about the wooden wish tags in the temple with student wishes for good grades and a prosperous future. It was fascinating learning about the history of the building and why it was made, but seeing students’ wishes on those tags was definitely my favorite part of this landmark. As a student, I could empathize with the countless people who came to write on these wooden wish tags.

I hope you enjoyed reading about these unique perspectives on certain aspects of Taiwanese history!



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