The Republic of

China (Taiwan)

Tour 3: Tainen

Tainen: The Dutch and the Ming

The arrival of Dutch and the overthrow of the Ming changed Taiwan for good. The Dutch sought to supplant their Portugese trade rivals and looked with envy upon Portugese ownership of their own protected trade enclave, Macau. They came too late to claim the Philippines. Instead, though, they set their sites upon Taiwan. With their sea power, they could hold it indefinitely against the Chinese fleets of the Ming. Further, it sat a lot closer to China than Spanish Luzon and, further, it offered better protection from Chinese attitude shifts than did Macau. Accordingly, they welcomed the Chinese decision to give them Taiwan, instead of Pegu.

They didn't figure upon the Manchus, a semi-civilized people who swept down from Manchuria to conquer China. The Manchus killed every Ming they could find, but they couldn't find all. The last survivor fled to the island of Taiwan in 1661 along with his supporters and loyalists aboard a ragtag fleet. Chinese on the island enthusiastically aided the Ming. These Ming loyalists defeated the Dutch and drove them out.

For 50 years, this Last Emporer, Xoxinga, and his descendants ruled this island in defiance of the rest of China, a constant source of worry to the Manchus, whom the Chinese always regarded as semi-alien and, hence, semi-Chinese. The early Cheung rulers, at least, continued to launch periodic assaults on the southern part of China.

Finally the Manchus gathered a fleet and ousted Xoxinga's descendants in 1683. The latter day descendants of the Cheng family didn't distinguish themselves by their fairness and ruled rather harshly, making the final take-over quite bloodless.

Xoxinga remains an obviously useful symbol to the mainlanders living on the island. They see themselves, not the Communists, as the real carriers of Chinese civilization. Like Xoxinga, they dream of a popular rebellion calling them home to their rightful honors.

The Dutch advent meant the end of the aborigines. The Dutch imported labor from China, even as they fought periodic wars with the aborigines. Under first the Dutch, and then the Ming, great numbers of Chinese emigrated from the provinces across the Straits. Since this migration generally consisted of single men, their marriage to aboriginal women meant a further reduction of the aborigines since their children regarded themselves as Chinese, not aboriginal.

The city of Tainen, itself, then served as a capital for some three hundred years. Accordingly, it boasts a number of fine temples and forts. I think of it as a "mini-Kyoto" because, like Kyoto, it no longer serves as the physical capital, but as an emotional center for the culture of a country. Like Kyoto, Hainen escaped bombing due to its lessened importance. Of course, Hainen pales in terms of sheer volume of temples and size. In favor of Tainen, I would mention the fewer visitors, the lesser prices, quietness, and the fewer sites to encounter. To see Kyoto, refer to the Kyoto tour.Click here to see Taiwan's more modern history.

I have long maintained that the Japanese moved the capital from Tainen to Taipei partly because they were too lazy to go that far south and also to undermine a traditional area of self-rule. A visit to the Tainen museum somewhat corrected my opinion. Apparently a particular tree with a valuable sap grows near Taipei. As Chinese merchants became more interested in its exports, economic activity shifted north. One might say, a bunch of saps persuaded them to go to Taipei.

Historical Sites
The Dutch Built Chikhan Tower.

The Dutch also built Fort Anping. Looks deceive
here; originally this flanked the coastline.

The Dutch also built this earthen structure.

This honoors Xoxinga.

When the Ming ivaded, these three concubines chose to die rather than side with the Manchus. This forms an obvious parable to the government.

When the Manchus conquered, they built this fort.

The Kung Temple honors a martial arts god. I'm not making this up.

See the fine detail.

I shot this by accident, but it shows pillars.

Many Chinese visit temples dedicated to Matsu, God of the Sea.

This shows a Confucian temple. Though in the heart of the city, this temple allows the kind of quiet contemplation one would expect of Confucianism.

The Chushih Temple contrasts with most Taiwanese temples in its gaudiness.

Armor? I can't tell with the lighting here.

I can't readily identify this one.

Three different temples, outside the city proper continue a contest to try to build the world's largest Chinese temple. This one came in third place.

This one came in second place, but I spent so long finding it, I couldn't find the winner before sunset. Since building continues apace, the placing may be different today.

More Modern Tainen
This shows the view from my hotel room.

This shows a modern street scene, and, with this note, the tour ends with a nod towards Taipei, today's very modern capital.

The Future

Related tours:
Onward to Taiwan Tour 4: Kaoshiung
Back to Taiwan Tour 2: Around the Island

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