The Chronicles of the Hall
The Chronicles of the HallThe Chronicles of the Establishment of the Hall
Get to Know Penghu
Signs of human activity in Penghu were found 5,000 years ago, and Han Chinese began settling here in the Southern Song dynasty. The old name for Penghu was “Ping Hu(平湖)” or “Peng Hu(彭湖).” After Kangxi era of Qing dynasty, it was call “Peng Hu澎湖”, which is an island surrounded by the seas, grassland without woods, barren soil without farming, the residents living in poor lives and the weather was windy in all four seasons. The ancestors could only make their living by fishing. The Han Chinese emigrating from the southeast coastal area of China, established their families in such difficult situations. Penghu is not only the relay point of Han Chinese immigrating to Taiwan, but it is also the first place in that area that the Chinese Empire conquered.
In the early 17th century, the costal bandits, the smugglers, the Japanese, the Spanish and the Dutch along the southeast costal area of China fought for the trading benefits, they gathered in the Taiwan Strait and caused the numerous battles in the surrounding sea area of the Formosa. At that time, all the countries were fighting to seize Penghu island.
The Qing and Ming Dynasty started battles at Penghu. As a result, in the late 17th century, Penghu was included into the territory of Chinas Empire; In the Sino-French war, French admiral Amédée Courbet invaded Penghu and made the Qing dynasty aware of the important military position of Penghu. In the Sino-Japanese war, Japanese fleets occupied Penghu under the command of Japanese Imperialism during the final settlement.
Penghu is the only one island county of the Republic of China covering an area of 126.89 square kilometers lacking of nature resources and low population. However, the destiny of Taiwan is strongly affected by the exploration history of Penghu. In 1281, Kublai Khan established an Inspective Division in Penghu. The governmental division at Penghu came 403 years earlier than Taiwan’s main land. Penghu started the development of Taiwan from a primitive community to a colonial society and started the relationship between Taiwan and the world with the involvement of the global trading system.
The Chronicles of the Restoration of the Hall
The official residence of the County magistrate was remodeled to the Penghu Reclamation Hall and given a new life after its establishment 70 years ago. “Penghu Reclamation Hall” cost millions with a budget invested into the reconstruction, and the site presents the difficult history of the ancestors exploring Penghu in those early times, and it will remain the historic development of Penghu for years to come. The Hall featuring deep culture values will be open with scheduled guided tours and become a new attraction for tourists experiencing the exploration history of Penghu.
Penghu County is the earliest governmental division of Taiwan. The history of its development can be traced to the Yuan Dynasty establishing the inspection division. After being ruled by different dynasty’s in different periods, the attacks from the bandits and the colonial status, it has a history of 722 years.
The beginning of development can be dated back more than 400 years, earlier than Taiwan’s main land. Recently, Penghu was invited to join the special exhibition of Formosa hosted by the National Palace Museum, and the Taiwan first ancient stone monument written “Shen You-rong defeated Dutch Captain Wijbrand van Waerwijck in the late Ming dynasty” was displayed in the exhibition. That makes us witness’ to Taiwan’s history starting in the 17th century, and shows evidence of the historic position of Penghu attracting extra attention.
East-West Fusion Architecture with a Profound Historical Value
The official residence of Penghu County Magistrate is located in the cross-section of Zhiping Road and Zhongxiao Road and 600 ping, which is the Official Residence of the Penghu Governor in the Japanese period and the construction was completed in the 10th year of the Showa period (1935). It’s a typical Japanese “Taisho-Showa” period architecture, which has the features of east-west fusion architect. The round window frame, European octagonal-shaped window, the wooden doors open inwards, Japanese sliding doors, Japanese-style roof and Penghu’s unique cat river stone dwarf walls make the construction a historical look. In the outdoor garden, there are some hundred-year-old banyan trees, tall Indian almond trees with other native plants in Penghu providing quality recreational space. The site competes with the current County Government Administration building (originally built as the Penghu Governor’s official residence) for an eye-catching comparison. They were built in the same period with native historical architect features, and both were approved to be preserved as the Counties designated historical landmarks.
The official residence of the County Magistrate has a history of 70 years. There have been a few government officials living here including two designated Magistrates, and six elected Magistrates Li Yu-lin, Xu Yong-li, Jiang Zu-wu, Lu An-de, Xie You-wen and Ou Jian-zhuang.
Particularly, Li Yu-lin lived in the residence for the longest time from his first term of office to the third in total of 9 years and 5 months. However, after the 11th elected Magistrate Wang Qian-tong died of illness in October in 1992 (ROC 81) in his term of office, the residence has been deserted until now. The following by-elected Magistrate Gao Zhi-peng, Deputy Magistrate Chen Pi-ji, Zheng Lie and the sitting Magistrate at present, the 14th elected Magistrate Lai Feng-wei have never lived in the official residence. Nevertheless, it is used as a party venue for the County Magistrate to entertain important guests.
The above mentioned history of the local government official’s residence is also an important part of history of the local autonomy practice.
The County Government has been holding the mission of reserving the history, and with the heatwave of the “Penghu academy” prospered by the native awareness in recent years, the County Magistrate Lai Feng-wei has been promoting and developing the significance of Penghu history. In order to remain the historical appearance of the County Magistrate’s official residence and reach the goal of reusing its cultural features, the original architecture is built as “The Museum of Penghu County History” for a new historical significance, which is also listed as one of the emphasis of governmental practices.
The Lively Reappearing Spirits of the Ancestors’ Life
After the County Government had strived hard in various aspects, in 1999, (ROC 88) the establishment of the “Penghu Reclamation Hall” was approved by the Council for Cultural Affairs and a project research team was also setup for collecting and studying related historic materials. In 2000 (ROC 89), the construction started. This year in June, the software and the facilities were completed. The interior design for the Hall includes: the displays at the different themed areas, such as “The Prelude of Penghu Exploration” , “Immigrants from Faraway”, “Penghu Exploration Cluster”, “ War and Battles at Penghu”, “The Political and Economic Infrastructure of Penghu”, “Reviewing Penghu Literature”, “Penghu Official Residence experiencing zone”, and the large ceramic tile murals on the garden walls with the themes of “Navigate to Penghu Island”, “The Figure of Goddess Mazu”. The site passes on the historic value, and also creates and develops a future value.
The historic material culture of the exploration of Penghu will be systematically displayed at the Penghu Reclamation Hall in order to create a cultural space for the offspring learning the spirits and wisdom of the ancestors exploring a new world by their dedication and hardworking.
The site will be a model of the reclamation of historical architecture, and also it presents the exploration history of Penghu with significant meanings. The opening ceremony on 25th was hosted by KMT (Kuomingtang) Chairman Lian Zhan with a series of activities, such as garden music concerts for celebrating the newborn Reclamation Hall.
Penghu Reclamation Hall is located in Magong City and adjacent to the County Government, Magong ancient city and the commercial center. It hopes to make the site become a Penghu native teaching resource center demonstrating Penghu’s exploration history. Also, this peaceful, elegant and refined cultural space will become an attraction for tourists experiencing Penghu exploration culture and a highly recommended recreational place for tourists enjoying its unique features.
Manuscripted by Chen Qi-qing and abstracted from Master South Magazine