Study visits

Full details of the conference study visits have been announced. All delegates are asked to email their choice of study visit to attend to ironbridge@contacts.bham.ac.uk as soon as possible.

Study visit 1: Chinese Heritage:

National Palace Museum:

The collection of the National Palace Museum mainly deals with art and artefacts of Chinese heritage. Many of the works in the collection are masterpieces, leading the Museum to become widely known as a treasure trove of Chinese culture. The museum’s collection was brought together on the exiling of the last Qing Emperor, Puyi, from the Forbidden City on the founding of the Republic of China. The cultural artefacts left within the palaces were collectively itemized, and a National Palace Museum was born.

The collection includes important pieces from the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties and holds a total of 608,985 cultural relics. Some of the most notable examples include the sandalwood furniture from the residence of the Qing Dynasty Prince Gong, calligraphic works by Chen Bo of the Northern Song Dynasty,  scroll “Cold Food Observance” by Su Shi of the Northern Song Dynasty, the Tzu-fan set of bells from the Spring and Autumn Period, gilt bronze Buddhist sculptures from the Northern Wei and later, jade tablets used by Tang Emperor Xuanzong in homage to the God of Earth.

Originally established on the mainland, the museum’s collections moved to Taiwan in the 1940s to protect them from fighting by Nationalist and Communist forces. During the 1980s and ‘90s the museum began to develop an international agenda, with exhibitions exploring the relationship between the occident and orient and the development of collaborations with international museums such as the Grand Palais in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum in New York. While in the 21st Century the Museum has looked to bring in a local aspect with a greater emphasis on Taiwanese culture and heritage and to take advantage of the potential for international tourism.

Dr Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

Dr Sun Yat-Sen was the first president of the Republic of China and this memorial hall was developed to designs by the renowned architect Wang Du-hung, as a celebration of his morality and ideals. Completed in 1972 it serves as a cultural and social education centre, housing the national performance hall, exhibition venues, lecture halls, a library and a magnificent park.

The hall was initially a place to display relics of Sun’s life but has since developed into a major cultural centre and is now operated by the Ministry of Education, highlighting the important role that culture is deemed to play in education.

Study visit 2: Spiritual Heritage:

Mengjia Longshan Temple:

The Longshan Temple was built in 1738 by settlers from Fujian, China, serving as a gathering place as well as a place of worship for the Chinese settlers. The site is multi-denominational and although Guanshiyin Buddha is the central deity worshipped the temple enshrines around 165 other deities. Its decoration and architecture reflect religious and folk beliefs, with a pair of bronze dragon poles in the front hall and four pairs of dragon poles in the middle hall to protect the temple. There are also exquisite wooden sculptures, including a beautifully sculpted well and Buddha setting in the main hall. The temple is seen as emblematic of Taiwanese classical architecture

Longshan Temple has been destroyed either in full or in part through numerous earthquakes, fires, and man-made disasters and has therefore seen frequent reconstruction. For example during the Second World War, on 31 May 1945 it was hit by American bombers during the Raid on Taipei, who claimed the Japanese were hiding armaments inside. The main building and the left corridor were damaged and many precious artefacts and artworks were lost in the ensuing fire.

Taipei Confucian Temple:

Temples to Confucius are a concrete symbol of Chinese Confucian culture. The Confucius Temple in Taipei, including the inner literary and martial temples, was founded in 1879 by the Qing court. In its first few years it was a busy site, holding major ceremonies every year, but with the occupation of Taiwan by the Japanese in the Japan-China War the temple was used by the military, who damaged and destroyed a number of memorial tablets of Confucius. Many ceremonial objects were lost, ceremonies were ceased and the temple fell into disrepair. Finally in 1907 the Japanese tore the temple down and replaced it with a school, although the school was open for worship on Confucius’ birthday. However by the 1920s the Taiwanese had raised enough money to buy land and construct a new Confucian temple and with an architect from the mainland the new temple was completed in 1930. Although ceremonies had to cease during the Second World War, the temple has continued to develop and thrive, acquiring Taiwanese architectural features.

Baoan Temple:

One of the city’s leading religious sites, the original, wooden structure was completed in 1760 by immigrants from Fujian province using materials brought from the home country. The current temple, dating from 1805, took 25 years to build. Although it was converted to a school under the Japanese occupation, it was poorly maintained and the government took the opportunity to restore it as a temple.

The temple deity is the emperor Bao-shen, famous as a doctor and great healer. As such, the temple gets many visitors who come to pray for good health. Enshrined in the bell tower is the goddess of birth. She is flanked by 12 female aides, each of whom assists with childbirth during a particular month. So naturally it’s long been popular with pregnant women. Other gods commemorated here are patrons of business and good fortune.

The two open-mouthed lions (one male, the other female) are said to be an appeal for the rule of law and good government.

Study visit 3: Indigenous Heritage:

Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines:

The Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines was established in 1994 as a specialist museum founded on the collection and display of artefacts of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples. It is dedicated to promoting mutual understanding between different ethnic groups, through careful research, preservation and explanation of the essence of Aboriginal cultures.

Shung Ye Museum’s main displays introduce the natural environment of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples, their daily utensils, clothing and personal decoration, ritual objects and religious life. The museum also has a special exhibition room where related exhibitions are held at regular intervals to broaden visitor’s field of concern, and to present the many faces of humankind’s culture. The collections consists of an ethnological collection and an art collection. Artefacts in the collection can be categorized according to ethnic groups, including Atayal(150), Saisiyat(28), Amis (207), Bunun(36), Tsou(47), Rukai(120), Paiwan(453), Puyuma(52), Yami/Tao(105), Sakizaya(11), Kavalan(10), the Pinpu(11), Pazih(10), Soloman Islands(2), Nepal(1) and items with unclear origins (269). The categories of artefacts are mostly costume and ornaments, followed by ceremonial instruments and handicrafts. The art collection was the first collection of local Taiwanese art to be established and has continued to develop with an array of styles and painters that all represent Taiwanese art.

The National Taiwan Museum:

Established in 1908, the museum is the oldest in Taiwan. It was established by the colonial Japanese government and was one of the major public buildings during the Japanese occupation. It was taken over by the Chinese government in 1949 and re-established as the National Taiwan Museum. It is the only museum established in the colonial years which is still in operation on its original site.

The museum is made up of five departments – anthropology, earth sciences, zoology, botany, and education – and features Taiwan’s indigenous animals and plants as well as cultural artefacts.

Study visit 4: Japanese Heritage:

Zhongshan Hall:

Zhongshan Hall originally operated as Taipei city hall and was constructed as a tribute to mark the ascension of the Japanese Emperor Hirohito in 1928. It was the fourth largest City hall in Japan at that time, smaller only than the city halls of Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, and was originally faced in light green tile to make it less visible to aerial bombers. On the return of Taiwan to China in 1945 the city hall was renamed Zhongshan Hall and was made an official meeting place for the Chinese government and a reception area for welcoming foreign guests and diplomats.

As well as its diplomatic function the hall has several auditoriums in use for arts performances, and between the end of the Second World War and 1993 it featured the only concert hall in Taipei.

The Red House:

The Red House was built in 1908 and is notable as a Western-style red-brick building, but also was Taiwan’s first public market and is the most well preserved class III historical site in Taiwan.

During the Japanese occupation it was a centre of entertainment and was considered an important entertainment centre for the whole of Eastern Asia. After the retrocession of Taiwan to China the site was taken over by the large number of Chinese immigrants who used the site for theatre and opera. The site now continues to function as an entertainment space with the development of the site as a theatre and urban art space.

Bo Pi Liao:

Bo Pi Liao, some 300 years old is one of the oldest streets in Taiwan. The name Bo Pi Liao expresses the chip or skin-the-bark-back process that went on in lumber production a long time ago. The name is based on what was happening in Manka construction at the turn of the 18th century, when construction outfits were still importing wood from China to build in Taiwan.

At the Bo Pi Liao Historic District, visitors can see well-preserved streets and traditional shop homes from the Qing period, as well as buildings from the Japanese occupation and early post-war periods. These buildings have witnessed the development of the Mengjia area (Wanhua District) over the years and form an important part of Taipei’s historic urban landscape.

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