-- Working draft for upcoming book by Mark Caltonhill, author of "Private Prayers and Public Parades - Exploring the religious life of Taipei" and other works.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

恆春鎮 and 牡丹鄉; Hengchun and Mudan townships, Pingtung County

Hengchun (恆春; “Eternal Springtime”)

Transliterated from Paiwan (排灣族) aboriginal name meaning “orchid” as 瑯嶠 (Hoklo: long-kiau; lit. “jade lofty-peak”, and variations such as 瑯嬌, 郎嶠 &c.).

Following the Mudan Incident (牡丹社事件) of 1871, in which 54 of 66 Ryukyuan sailors who survived shipwreck were murdered by Paiwan aborigines, Japan sought compensation from the Chinese government. When the latter denied responsibility (and hence, in Japanese minds, sovereignty), Japan sent a revenge invasion in 1874, and eventually received reparation from the Qing court.

Suspicions that Japan had intentions to make a more permanent invasion, and had conferred some kind of citizenship on the Paiwan, as well China’s own failures to subdue the aborigines, led to dispatch of Shen Baozhen (沈葆楨), who had been successful against the Taiping Rebellion.

Shen constructed encircling defensive wall around the city, established the area’s first county-level government, and renamed it 恆春 (Hengchun, “Eternal Springtime”) in recognition of Taiwan’s southernmost peninsula’s warm climate.

A good proportion of the city walls still exist, and are among the best to be seen in Taiwan today.

Mudan (牡丹; lit. “poeny”) is a transliteration of the Paiwan aboriginal name Matsuran into 牡丹 (Hoklo: bo-tan).

Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2011

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