The Tainan-based National Museum of Taiwan History will hold a special exhibition offering glimpses into Taiwan history through old maps from Dec. 5 through Aug. 12, 2018.
"Taiwan History in Maps” will feature vintage maps, historical documents, and cultural relics that date back to as early as the 16th century to showcase landscapes, communities, and daily lives in different eras of Taiwan.
One of the displays - an ancient map that details the demarcation zones of Han and aboriginal peoples at the end of 18th century - will meet the public for the first time in Taiwan. Created by cartographers in the Qing dynasty, the demarcation map was previously in the collection of late scholar and painter Hou Chin-lang (侯錦郎).
Culture Minister Cheng Li-chiun noted that these vintage maps provide insights on the policies and priorities for Taiwan under different regimes, while the contemporary maps reflect social issues and concerns.
Also, the spatial representation of maps are a good reflection of the unique perspective, power, and history of different eras, she added. From ancient times to modern day, the development and definition of maps have diversified, making maps not only a tool for marking space and distance but a microcosm of living space and social concerns.
Director Wang Chang-hua (王長華) of NMTH pointed out that the museum is responsible for preserving and promoting history as well as caring for society. The map of Tuzheng community in Tainan, for example, is created in collaboration with local cultural organizations to present collective memories after eight months of field studies, investigation, and illustrative documentation.
In addition, the museum has created a contemporary map offering lifestyle guides to the region near the Tainan Train Station and Yongkang Industrial Park to promote understanding and interaction among local residents. The map will be given to new residents in Tainan in the future to help them become familiar with Tainan and engage in local life.
The entrance of the exhibition will be decorated with globes and ancient maps produced by the West from the 16th to the 19th century. Each presents a different world view, purpose, and development of techniques such as block-print, cooper-plate printing, stencil printing, and lithographic printing.
A total of five chronological sections will present Taiwan in different eras. The first section, "The Island that Lingers on the Tropic of Cancer,” will feature maps produced in the 16th and the 17th century to show the undefined contour and name of Taiwan due to the lack of geographical knowledge.
"Boundaries between Imagination and Reality” will showcase various editions of demarcation maps in the 18th century to present the growing Han settlements. A life-sized ditch will be recreated as well to present the policy that separated indigenous and Han communities. Interactive multimedia will also be used to cross-reference the old border with modern maps.
Paintings, posters, and cultural relics featuring the lives of aboriginal people and Han people will also be displayed to offer more information on the interaction between different ethnic groups.
"Taiwan under the Magnifying Glass” will present the territory of Taiwan under Japanese colonial rule through maps, surveying and mapping equipment, and textbooks, to show how the Japanese government deepened its governance through education, scientific investigation, and population census. It will also show how the Japanese authorities utilized maps in their tourism and transportation promotion.
"Anti-Communist and Revival Base” will display maps of Taipei City and political campaign materials such as slogans, flyers, and teaching aids that incorporated maps for anti-Communist purposes, which were created by the Nationalist government after the retrocession of Taiwan.
"Speaking Maps” will feature videos, images, and interactive devices to present how maps became a medium for community engagement and formation of collective identity in recent years, and how artists incorporate geographic information, GPS data, and social networks with their art.
Hosted by Minister Cheng and Director Wang, the opening ceremony kicked off with a dance performance by the Department of Dance of Tainan University of Technology to present the interaction between aboriginal and Han communities on the border as well as the development of society in and around mountains during the Qing dynasty.
‘Taiwan History in Maps'