The “General Taiwan Map of Guangxu” is an important antique map and reference of Taiwan in the end of the Ching dynasty. It was completed in 1879, under the officer of rectifying armed force in Taiwan Shia Sien-lun’s leadership. This map contains of a whole map of Taiwan and eleven other maps of separated prefectural areas. These twelve maps along with the textual descriptions were bound in a volume. Another publication of the ”Taiwan Chian-Hou-Shan map”, with large singletons of the prefectural areas, is the imitation of the “General Taiwan Map of Guangxu”.
In 1874, the Japanese invaded Taiwan by the excuse of the Paiwan aboriginals’ murder of 54 Ryukyuan sailors, which is known as the Mudan incident. The Japanese quoted the concept of the international law and viewed Taiwan mountains as no man’s land, and intended to make the prior occupation of a terra nullius, which astonished the Ching government badly. The “General Taiwan Map of Guangxu” was produced in such a context.
Shen Bao-jen and Ding Ri-chang were the men in charge at that time, they changed the Ching government’s passive policy toward Taiwan management and abandoned the implementation of mountain closing and sea crossing. The new policy of Mountain Development and Aborigine Pacification was adopted. Several prefectural offices were added in both northern and eastern Taiwan and the sovereignty declaration of the mountains were made then.
This was the first map, made by the Han Chinese people, to cover both Chian-Shan (western Taiwan) and Hou-Shan (eastern Taiwan) completely. This map is a record of Taiwan’s geographical environments at the critical moment of Mountain Development and Aborigine Pacification and Westernization Movement, and is viewed as a precious material for explaining the environmental transitions of Taiwan from Ching China to Japanese ruled period. However, the accuracy in measurement and the drawing model of the ancient maps are quite different from the present time. Inaccuracy is common in the ancient maps. Besides, the symbols may not be easily recognized, and the characters are blurred and indistinct. The “General Taiwan Map of Guangxu” could be hard for modern people to read. Here we are going to introduce a series of illustrations and bring you to Taiwan in the end of Ching dynasty.
(translated by BWP)
National Repository of Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture.