Tamsui Fort San Domingo-SB20: 35.11.14
紙本鋼筆Pen on paper
Overlooking the upper reaches of the Tamsui River from the hilltop of Pao-Tai Pu (i.e. the Fortress Hill), the cube-shaped fort is like a valiant red knight standing tall and upright at the riverside, though by no means will the small sailboat, carefree and leisurely on the water, threaten to attack it. The elegant consular residence shows arches and rooftop; if painted with oil pigments, it would be an amazingly beautiful scene with all the reds and greens set off by the color of the river. Erected from the bottom right corner is a signal pole, on which a rope twists like a spider web. When will a large ship enter the port to hang a flag on the pole?
1. 紅毛城 Fort San Domingo
In the mid-17th century, the Dutch troops drove the Spanish regime out of Tamsui and built the fort wall and moat. Later, the Fort became the base for Cheng Cheng-kung’s governance and was subsequently garrisoned by the navy of the Qing Dynasty. In the 1860s, when Taiwan was open for international navigation and trade, Fort San Domingo was leased to Britain as a consulate, which was then extended and painted in red. The existing appearances of Fort San Domingo were mostly established at that time.
2. 城堡上的角樓 The Turret on the Fort
The turret extended from the roof of the Fort as well as the battlements on the top of the wall was set up by the British in the 19th century to strengthen the defense capabilities of the Fort. To meet and attack the advancing enemy troops, the soldiers stationed in the Fort could use the wall as a shield and return fire at a commanding height.
3. 米字旗 Union Jack
In the Japanese rule period, Fort San Domingo was continuously leased to the British as a consular office. Though the flag in the picture is sketchy, according to historical documents, it must be the Union Jack, i.e. the national flag of the U.K.1 The strong thick flagstaff on the turret was made of the huge wood from Mount Ali before World War II. Having been erected for nearly half a century, the flagstaff was replaced by Taiwan red cypress from the mountains of Chi-Lan area, in Yilan County, in the 1970s.
4. 英國領事官邸 The British Consular Residence
The two-floor brick consular residence, completed in 1891 with elevated foundations and exterior corridors to resist the wet climate, is characteristic of colonial architecture. The Treaty of Tiensin facilitated Tamsui to open for foreign trade and meanwhile helped Britain accredit a consul to the commercially prosperous Tamsui to gather all sorts of information and protect the British merchants’ business.
5. 信號柱 The Signal Pole
The signal pole erected near the warehouse of the Tamsui Customs Office used flag signals to communicate with the ships entering the port. Afterwards, no big ships would enter Tamsui, and the signal pole disappeared as well. The history of the signal pole is hardly noticed. However, in the Japanese rule period, the signal pole caught lots of tourists’ attention, and consequently, the pole left a historical trace in Chen Cheng-po’s painting.2
Still visible at the Kaohsiung Harbor in 1974, this signal pole, with the same specifications as the one at the Tamsui Customs Office, is removed and replaced by a signal tower to send signal lights. The source of picture is from the US NAVY Cruise Book. However, no such book is available in any library in Taiwan. The picture is adopted from Chang Wei-bin’s blog: http://taiwanairpower.org/blog/?p=7448
A signal pole at a harbor in the Meiji era.
The signal tower at the Kobe Harbor has different specifications, but it also sends flag signals to communicate with ships.
6. 高爾夫球場的涼亭，或獸疫血清製造所 A Pavilion on the Golf Course, Or the Animal Epidemic Prevention and Sera Research Institute
Compared with an old photograph from the 1930s, the pictorial structure at the bottom right corner seems to be a pavilion located at the corner of the Tamsui Golf Course. However, judging from its relative position, it may well be a structure in the Animal Epidemic Prevention and Sera Research Institute. Taken over by the government after the war, this animal epidemic prevention organization is today’s Animal Health Research Institute.
Source: The National Archives of Culture