Tamsui Scenery (3)
年代不詳 Date unknown
畫布油彩 Oil on canvas
私人收藏 Private collection
Chen Cheng-po, who has the habit of taking nature as his painting studio, perhaps in the outskirts of Tamsui town found this kind of beautiful landscape scenery. A fisherman on a small boat is leaning against the mast taking a nap; a flock of ducks are freely swimming on the water surface. The other side of the river is a wide swath of fields extending all the way to below the faraway Datun Mountain. In the wide field of vision, you can vaguely see the silhouettes of farmers quietly working in the fields. The years of the mountains and river are quietly serene. Are the two people, the father and son, who are sitting on the riverside and fishing, also loose in that kind of tranquility?
1. 庄子內溪 Zhuangzinei Stream
The Zhuangzinei Stream belonging to the Tamsui River System flows before our eyes; the alluvial waters of the valley floor provide fertile farmlands. In the early period, many villages were established along this stream. In recent years with the urbanization of Tamsui, the lower reaches of the Zhuangzinei Stream has been buried in the dark recesses of a concrete jungle being submerged in the dirty, silted-over covered sewers of the city.
2. 養鴨 Raising Ducks
The red-faced ducks freely swim in flocks on the surface of the water. The Muscovy ducks originating in South America were introduced into Taiwan in the 17th century, and were raised by many farmers. The ducks can eat the harmful pests in the fields, supply very large duck eggs, plump duck meat and also rich nutritive value. It’s no wonder “the duck herder” is the representative image of the farming village in old Taiwan.
Taiwan Governor-General’s Office, ed. Joint Commemoration of Taiwan Photo Posts (Taipei: Taiwan Daily News, 1916). Name of Post Card: “Feeding Ducks on the Tamsui River”
3. 鴨母船 Duck Mother Boat
The sampan moored beside the flock of ducks is likely a “Duck Mother Boat”. In the Tamsui river system, there were often small boats carrying ducks, looking for a sand bank to release the ducks on to look for food and then to carry them back home. In the eyes of foreigners releasing ducks is a peculiar scene of Taiwan. In 1923 when Prince Hirohito came to visit Taiwan, he also went to the Keelung riverbank to see the scene of rearing flocks of ducks.
4. 小漁船 Small fishing boats
The small boats moored on the river have low semi-circular boat screens composed of bamboo slats or bamboo casing; they were created by the people on the boats to form a rest area to be able to shade themselves from the sun or block the wind. The prow of the boat has a small mast which can carry a sail. If not relying on the power of the wind, they can paddle with oars; their movement is very free.
5. 沒骨技巧 Boneless (Mogu) Technique
The near view of the three tree trunks is similar to the Boneless (Mogu) technique used in Chinese ink painting; there is no linear outline rather the momentum of the brush is directly wielded to render the tree trunk. In the decade of the 1930s, Chen Cheng-po was consciously blending the techniques of Chinese painters such as Ni Zan, Bada Shanren, etc. In this work we also seem to be able to see to some degree the artistic conception of landscape painting.
6. 釣魚 Fishing
Chen Cheng-po probably was in this painting citing a few customary concepts from Chinese painting. The angler which frequently appears in landscape painting also is used here to adorn the painting. Actually the Tamsui of Japanese Colonial Period was known far and near as a ‘holy’ fishing spot. On every holiday numerous anglers from afar would assemble on the seacoast and riverbanks.
7. 大屯山系Datun Mountain System
The uninterrupted rising and falling of the mountain peaks in the distant view should be the Datun Mountain system. The slope at the base of the foothill seems to have a village of rammed earth houses. The Japanese author Nishikawa Mitsuru considered that the mountains behind Tamsui were full of a masculine atmosphere and formed a strong contrast to the softness of Guanyin Mountain. Availing ourselves of what is depicted in the painting, we seem to be able to feel the majesty and magnificence of the mountains.
Taiwan Daily News, April 3, 1940, the 5th section