紙本鋼筆Pen on paper
A modern steamship is depicted with intricate lines. It is a truly exceptional picture in which a huge ship is berthed right behind a township hall. Only in a narrow hinterland like Tamsui, where the government departments are adjacent to the pier, can we witness such a fantastic view.
The theme of this ink sketch is “the setting sun”; the colors of Tamsui at twilight must be splendid. Near the top of the picture plane is a half circle drawn with twists and turns of light and shadow. Is it the sunset that is going to sink below the horizon?
1. 郡役所 Tamsui Prefecture Hall
In 1920, as the Governor-General's Office enforced the “Rectification of Local Systems,” the administrative divisions were radically changed. Tamsui Prefecture was established in this period, and subsequently the Prefectural Administrative Office was constructed, as shown in the picture. The jurisdiction of Tamsui Prefecture was very broad, including the local “Tamsui Street” and three “Zhuangs” (i.e. Villages) of Pali, Sanzhi, and Shimen.
2. 台字章 The Chinese Insignia 台
On the doorhead of the Prefectural Administrative Office is an insignia with the clear inscription of a Chinese character台 (i.e. Tai, part of Taiwan). In the beginning of the Japanese rule in Taiwan, the insignia台was designed to represent the colonialist governmental system ruled under the Governor-General's Office. At that time, the government officials of different ranks were often seen to wear a badge with the insignia台, but it was extremely rare and peculiar that a building was decorated with this insignia.
Taiwan Daily News, Section 6, on September 7, 1939. The Chinese insignia台is clearly visible on the doorhead of the Administrative Office of Tamsui Prefecture.
3. 「半切妻」式屋頂 “Hankirizuma” Roof
With both ends clipped off, the gable roof of the Prefectural Administrative Office is called “hankirizuma” (i.e. jerkinhead) in Japanese architecture. After the Meiji Restoration, Japan actively learned in every aspect from the European and American countries. As a result, Japanese architecture has assimilated many elements of Western techniques and cultures, which were brought into Taiwan with the Japanese rule and colonization.
4. 輪船 The Steamship
Berthed at the pier, the steamship with a large chimney is probably loading or unloading goods. Steamships had been the main vehicle to connect Tamsui with the world overseas, and the essential products in northern Taiwan like tea and camphor were exported from Tamsui Harbor. In the Japanese rule period, however, the capabilities of Tamsui Harbor had been declining, and consequently, it was replaced by Keelung Harbor.
5. 桅杆 Masts
Though a steamship is powered by engine, huge masts may well be erected aboard. Normally, such masts are not used for spreading sails but for other purposes. For instance, the wire of an antenna is mostly pulled between the tops of two masts to receive messages. In addition, the mast enables the sailor to climb up and look into the distance, or to hoist various signal flags to make long-distance communication.
6. 沙洲 The Sandbar
Though depicted with a few simple strokes, the sandbar can be a big obstacle for a large steamship as shown in the picture. In the period of Japanese colonization, huge accumulations of sand in the Tamsui River estuary made the navigation of ships increasingly difficult. When a vessel of deep draft could not reach the shore, it had to stay in the deepwater area and depend on smaller boats to take people and goods on and off.
7. 暴風警報信號標 The Storm Warning Signal Post
The pole behind the Prefectural Administrative Office must be “the storm warning signal post.” In the era when communication technology was not advanced, there used to be such noticeable signals at the harbor to give messages to the navigating boats. The storm warning signal post can give advance warning of the changing weather. If there is a typhoon occurring, a red ball or circular cone will be hoisted as a warning signal.