Almost 400 years ago, numerous Chinese and Europeans started trading, building cities and roads in Taiwan. In the end this would dramatically change the lives of the many different Aborigine tribes, who lived on the island for thousands of years. During the period of the Cutch occupation of Taiwan a multi-cultural society developed in the south of the island, with all its unique and interesting features. In this exhibition we re-create a small part of daily life during the period 1624-1662. We have tried to bring alive the people who lived during that period and let them speak directly to us. All the information in the exhibition is based on original source material from Cutch and other archives. The characters and voices of the people that speak to us have been created by us, but based on the archival sources available, in order to be as authentic as possible. Due to the material available, the exhibition is focused on the south of Taiwan, where most people lived at the time. We hope this exhibition will bring alive the way people lived and worked many, many years ago, together they laid the foundation for a new Taiwan.
My name is Ｒemala and I live in this house with some other women of our tribes and our sweet children. When I was very little the Chinese people always came and traded household goods for deerskins with us. Later the Holland people came and built buildings and roads. Life hasn’t changed much in the village, although the men hunt much more deer for trade. The wars in our area have now ended and the villages are now protected by the Dutch soldiers, but we still keep the skulls of our defeated enemies, we respects their power and they give us great strength. Our live is peaceful and happy, my little girls are all beautiful. My man lives in a men’s house near here and we see each other every day. The new rice wine is ready soon and we will celebrate the whole tribe!
This year I have finally decided to let my family come to Tayowan form Quanzhou in China and settle here. My name id Lim Boijco and I was born in Indonesia, where father lived and traded. My business here in Tayowan is going very well, this place is at the centre of trade between China, Japan and Southeast Asia. There are less trade restrictions than in China and that makes it easier to do business. Formosa is a country of many opportunities, apart from trade I also invest in agriculture and I have many sugarcane fields and many workers. At a young age I learned Portuguese and now I can speak a little Dutch. Together with the other rich merchants here in Taiwan we form the council that regulates the affairs of the Chinese in Formosa. Many labourers are needed and we make sure they come over here from China. We so not like the Cutch, but they let us live according to our own customs and do not interfere too much with our lives. We live in our world and they in theirs.
After having served as a soldier for the Dutch East India Company (VOC) for six years and traveled all over Asia. I now have settled sown in Formosa. My name is Arnold van Mesthoven van Ceulen. The VOC were looking for school teachers in Formosa, and because I can read and write they asked me to be one. I also had to learn the local language, which went very well, also because my first wife was from Swatclauw, unfortunately she died young in the second summer of our marriage. My present wife is from the South (Makatau tribe), she speaks a little Dutch and can sing beautifully in this language. After five years of teaching, the company gave us a stone house and some basic furniture, we feel very content in our new house and hope to have a baby soon.
School and Play
There were no cram schools in 17th century Taiwan and children had plenty of time to play. At the time, even most adults could not read or write! The only real schools were the Dutch schools for Aborigines that educate both children and grown men and women on a voluntary basis. What did they learn in these schools? Just go inside to school to see! The children of rich Chinese would have private teacher to teach them writing and the Chinese classics. Children of Dutch parents (or one Dutch parent) would also learn how to read and write Dutch. Still, little time was spent in school and lots of time was spent playing. Not only the children liked to play. For the adults there were music and Chinese opera performances and even puppets shows in the city of Tayowan. In a time when there was no television, this was the major form of entertainment.
The Market and Ships
The market is a place where goods are exchanged for money or other goods. In the 17th century Taiwan there was a large international market, with many Dutch, Chinese Japanese traders that traveled all over Asia to do business. They brought things from all over Asia to their Taiwan. There was also an internal trade network between Chinese, Aborigines and Dutch. They all traded and exchanged goods together and all could speak a little bit of each other’s language. Trade brought people from all kinds of different backgrounds together. In their houses we could find different things from different countries. They not only exchanged these goods, they also studied them and tried to improve and change them. Trade made Taiwan a rich and important place in Asia, where everybody wanted to go.
In 17th century Taiwan there were hospitals, schools, courts and many different government institutions, but it was certainly no democracy. The majority of the people, the Aborigines, were either governed by the Cutch or opposed to Dutch rule. The second largest group, the Chinese, had more influence through special councils, but they still had to obey laws made by the Dutch. The Dutch, who represented only 1% of the Taiwan population, created a society where they ruled and decided almost everything. They did, however, draft a law book for Taiwan and basically all people of the island, no matter what nationality they were, were more or less fairly treated according to the law. The most important thing was that trade and agriculture developed rapidly and that nothing halted this process.