Back from a Full Catch
畫布油彩 Oil on canvas
私人收藏 Private collection
Looking at Tamsui from a northern hillside of the small town, the pedestrians on the main road are moving directly facing the faraway community of red tile houses. Farther along the streets is the harbor with a ship billowing smoke and berthed beside the staging platform; this displays a little of the vigor of the commercial port. The Tamsui River off Bizaitou zigzags like a piece of silk ribbon. Xiaopingding Mountain, which stretches full-width across the upper part of the landscape, is gathered into the painting. The scenery on the periphery of this town is relatively less noticed by other painters. To take an angle with an original approach also reflects Chen Cheng-po’s careful examination of the local life.
1. 大路上的行人 The pedestrians on the main road
The sky is light but not fully so; this is the time of Tamsui at dawn. The general populace living north of Chengzaikou get up early and go out to make their purchases; they together with the small businessmen carrying shoulder poles are all heading for the town which has not yet completely awoken. To stroll forward by following the electric poles and the gait of the people, are you also anticipating the coming scene of the streets or not?
2. 施合發商行的木材 Lumber of the Shi He Fa Trading Company
The imported China fir timber from China’s Fuzhou or Japan’s Hokkaido is neatly piled beside the riverbank in preparation for being sent to the Shi He Fa Trading Company’s lumber factory to undergo processing. In 1930, Shi He Fa was the largest lumber business in all of Taiwan. Its factory was established at the intersection of sea transportation, the river way and railway thus cutting the transportation costs.
Kuroda Kikunosuke, Northern Taiwan Photo Posts, Tainan: Taiwan Picture Association, 1914.
3. 嘉士洋行倉庫 British Merchant Warehouse
The low, red brick building projecting out along the riverbank is the British Merchant Warehouse, which was constructed at the end of the 19th century. During the Japanese Colonial period, it became a hub of oil storage and transshipping for the Foreign Shell Company. Imported oil underwent packing and transshipping to all parts of Taiwan. During WWII, this oil warehouse, which typically emitted a pungent stench, was bombed, thus producing an enormous conflagration.
Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Navy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Civil Affairs Handbook - Taiwan (Formosa), Taihoku Province, 1944, p.61.
4. 棧橋與輪船 Landing Platform and Ship
The wooden landing platform on the right side of the Shell Company Warehouse is connected with a ship and has the silhouette of busy workers probably carrying out the job of adding oil, of replenishing the two large-scale oil tanks on the bank. Up until 1941 before the last oil tanker left, the Tamsui River still had not completely silted up and as the photos show, large-size ships, which even exceeding 3000 tons, could still smoothly pass in and out.
5. 黃東茂宅邸 Huang Dongmao Mansion
The western-style house faintly appearing in Bizaitou is the Huang Dong-mao Mansion. Huang Dongmao from Xiamen was in his early years the representative of foreign firms in the oil business. Later he also invested in enterpirses like brick manufacturing, coal, railways, etc.; his financial ability was really strong. The inhabitants of the town could look in the distance at this mysterious mansion up until 1939 when it was torn down for the construction of a water airport.
（黃東茂先生的別墅）川田友之，FORMOSA TO-DAY, 1917（大正6年7月2日）
“Huang Dong-mao’s Mansion” Kawada Tomoyuki, FORMOSA TO-DAY, 1917 (July 2, Taisho 6)
6. 小坪頂山 Xiaopingding Mountain
The hill stretching across the top part of the painting is Xiaopingding Mountain; its old name was “Yuanzaitang Hill”. Before North Tamsui Highway and the railway were established, the old road going through Xiaopingding and running to Beitou District was the major road connecting Tamsui and Taipei.