"Conventional Industries" (3)
For a (weird) introduction to this topic, refer to "Conventional Industries" (1).
This will be the last of the "Conventional Industries" entries, as the Mining and Crafts sections bring me to the end of the book.
IV. Mining 礦業
Mining isn't that significant in the overall history of Taiwan. Taiwan is a very small country, its geography doesn't vary that much, and the groups that migrated here never put much importance on mining. In the earliest times it was either fishing or farming, a little later it was lumber, and later still came the crafts for which Taiwan is justifiably famous. Large-scale mining arrives relatively late in Taiwan's history, and has never been important to the island's economy.*
A. A History of Taiwanese Coal 煤礦
1. Most of Taiwan's exploited coal fields lie in a band that stretches from Jhunan 竹南 in Miaoli County 苗栗縣 to Keelung 基隆. There are unexploited coal reserves south of Jhunan, along the west coastal plain.
2. Coal was used by prehistoric peoples to smelt iron. There are records of the Spanish trading with Taiwanese aborigines for coal in the early 1600s.
3. In the 1870s, during the Ching Dynasty 清朝, there were over 90 coal mines in north Taiwan. Despite superstitions regarding mining, the Ching court later allowed British engineers to modernize some of these mines, and to make them more profitable.
4. Transport of coal was improved by development of the railways under the Japanese Imperial Administration.
5. Coal production in Taiwan reached its peak in 1964. Thereafter the cost of importing petroleum adversely affected the market, and the use of coal declined.
6. The implementation of new safety regulations in 1984 was a further blow to the industry, as most coal mines were by that time antiquated and badly managed.
7. Taiwan's last coal mine closed in 2001.
B. The Story of Taiwanese Gold
1. Europeans came looking for gold in Taiwan as early as the 1500s.
2. The gold deposits in Jiou Fen 九份 were discovered in 1894.
3. Gold mining on a large scale wasn't begun until Taiwan was under Japanese Imperial administration. The gold mine they set up in Jiou Fen was operated until 1987 by the Taiwan Gold Company 台灣金屬業公司, long after the Japanese had lost possession of Taiwan.
4. The town of Ruei Fang 瑞芳 in New Taipei City owes much of its existence to the Jiou Fen gold mine and the miners who worked there.
C. A Tour of Mining Areas
1. Many of the old gold mines can still be visited, and even explored to some degree. Jiou Fen is of course the easiest to reach. Most of the other mines are in very remote areas.
2. There is a gold museum 黃金博物館 in Ruei Fang, New Taipei City.
D. The History of the Taiwanese Salt Industry 鹽業
1. Just after its establishment, the Dutch colony in Tainan 台南imported salt. Later a salt mine was opened, but the salt from this mine was very bitter, and not very profitable.
2. Koxinga 鄭成功 and his successors strove to improve Taiwan's salt supply after the Ching court 清廷 imposed an embargo on all exports to Taiwan. The discovery and excavation of new salt mines in the 1600s was part of this strategy. The Yan Cheng ("salt repository") district 鹽程區 in Kaohsiung City 高雄市 had its own salt mine during this time.
3. Even after the colonial era, Japan remained one of the biggest importers of Taiwanese salt.
4. In 1967 Taiwan ceased exporting salt, and thereafter the industry went into decline. Facing increasing competition from imports, Taiwan's last salt mine shut down in 2002.
5. There is a salt museum 台灣鹽業博物館 in Chi Gu 七股, Tainan County 台南縣.**
V. Crafts 工藝
A. Ceramics/Pottery 陶瓷
1. Ceramics is a complex subject, and several areas within Taiwan specialize in their own types of ceramics. Going into all the different types of ceramics and how they are produced would take up a lot of space, and to be honest I'm not up to the task right now. Those interested in Taiwanese ceramics would probably do well to start at the ceramics museum in Yingge 鶯歌陶瓷博物館, New Taipei City.
B. Metalwork 金工工藝
1. Tainan 台南, Jia Yi 嘉義, and Lu Gang 鹿港 all have long traditions of fashioning gold into both ceremonial objects and jewelry. Many of these traditions were brought here during the Ching Dynasty.
2. Shr Lin 士林, in Taipei City, produces the "Shr Lin Knife" 士林名刀, which dates back to 1870.
3. Knives have both practical and symbolic functions within many Taiwanese aboriginal cultures. Tong Men Village 銅門村, located in Shiou Lin Township 秀林鄉, Hualien County 花蓮縣 produces a distinctive knife used by aboriginals.
C. Glasswork 玻璃產業
1. Hsinchu 新竹 was an important glass production center between 1961 and 1981. They made a lot of Christmas lights for Western markets.
2. The Paiwan tribe 排灣族 is known for the glass beads it still produces.
3. There is a glass museum 玻璃工藝館 in Hsinchu.***
D. Basketry and Weaving 編織工藝
1. Methods of making baskets on the west coast of Taiwan predate Chinese settlement of those areas. Da Jia 大甲, Yuan Li 苑裡, and Tong Shiao 通霄 in central Taiwan all have traditions of basketry that can be traced back to the "plains aborigines" 平埔族 and the Kas tribe 卡斯族.
2. Many other Taiwanese aboriginal tribes have their own traditions of basketry and weaving.
3. Examples of local basketry can be viewed in the bamboo products museum 竹藝博物館, located in Jhushan 竹山, Nantou County 南投縣.
E. Other Crafts
1. Da Shi 大溪 in Taoyuan 桃園 has a tradition of furniture making. San Yi 三義 in Taichung 台中 is known for wood carving. Tainan has a tradition of temple painting. Meinong 美濃 in Kaohsiung is known for its paper umbrellas. Other places are known for other things - cloth stitching, drums, or even blankets. But most of these "other things" are so obscure that you'd have a hard time finding them, much less finding the place they came from!
And this, my friends, brings to an end my discussion of "Conventional Industries." Hoped you learned something? I know I did!
"Conventional Industries" (2)
"Conventional Industries" (1)
台灣鳳梨的歷史 A History of Taiwanese Pineapples
Cheng Gong Fishing Port 成功漁港
*In the book there follows a long list of Taiwan's mineral resources. I was tempted to include it here, but I'm not sure how widely these resources are exploited. The sections of the book included here discuss minerals I have read or heard about, and minerals that seemed more relevant to the history of Taiwan.
For that matter, what about concrete? Is concrete "mined"? Might be worth looking into. It's a big industry in Taiwan, where all the houses are made it!
**I've been to this museum. It's really not worth visiting.
***This is not in the "Conventional Industries" book, but I I used to live down the street from it!