Thursday, August 26, 2010

The missing 500 - Part 1

(A statue of 鄭成功Cheng Chen-Gong - known to the West as Koxinga國姓爺, in 皓月園, 鼓浪嶼Gulangyu, Xiamen City)

On the 18th day of the 8th month (lunar calendar) in 1683, the Ming-Cheng Dynasty ceased to exist. This was the statement from the 14-year-old ruler of Taiwan, Koxinga's 2nd grandson 鄭克塽Cheng Ke-shuang, to turncoat 施琅Shi-lang who had just defeated Cheng's Navy in Peng-hu and was ready to attack Taiwan proper. It was authored by 鄭德瀟Cheng De-Shiaw on behalf of the boy-king:



然思皇靈之赫濯,信知天命有攸歸。逆者亡、順者昌,迺覆載待物之廣大;貳而討、服而舍,諒聖王與人之甚寬。用遵往時之成命,爰 邀此日之殊恩。冀守宗祧以勿失,永作屏翰於東方。業有修表具奏外,及接提督臣施琅來書,以復居故土,不敢主張。臣 思既傾心而向化,何難納土以輸誠。茲特繕具本章,并延平王印一顆、冊一副及武平侯臣劉國軒印一顆、忠誠伯臣馮錫范印一顆,敬遣副使劉國昌、馮錫韓齎赴軍前繳奏;謹籍土地人民,待命境上。數千里之封疆悉歸王宇,百餘萬之戶口並屬版圖。遵海而南,永息波濤之警;普天之 下,均沾雨露之濡。實聖德之漸被無方,斯遐區之襁負恐後。  


至於明室宗親,格外優待;通邦士庶,軫念綏柔;文武諸官,加恩遷擢;前附將領,一體垂仁;夙昔仇怨,盡與蠲除;籍沒產業,俱行賜復。尤期廣推寬大之仁,明布維新之令。使夫群情允愜,共鼓舞於春風;萬彙熙恬,同泳游於化日。斯又微臣 無厭之請,徼望朝廷不次之恩者也。為此,激切具本奏聞,伏候勑旨。

Essentially, it states: "... I am young and ignorant and should have capitulated sooner in the presence of the immense power of Your Majesty [the Qing emperor]... I hereby renounce my titles and rights and together with my subordinates surrender to you. Attached please find the seals of mine and those of my trusted advisers. Have mercy on us and the household of the Royal Ming Court ..."

In it, Cheng requested that he and his family be sent back to Hokkien [instead of Beijing] because a southerner could not adapt to life in northern China and that he be granted residences and lands and a stipend to live on in reasonable comfort.

The Qing Court naturally would not have any of these. Instead, Cheng was held hostage in Beijing, given an empty title of 漢軍公(the Duke of Han Army - sarcastically of course) as part of the 正黃旗Formal Yellow-flag Army [one of the eight flag-armies of Qing]. And his army disbanded totally.

It has been only 327 years since the surrender; the aftermath while little known was actually very well-recorded. The systematic destruction of anything Cheng by the Qing Court was nothing short of spectacular. We will now look at what had happened to the 東寧王朝Tung-Ning Dynasty survivors. One of the examples is the 藤牌兵 or the Rattan-shield Infantrymen who were recruited from 龍溪縣Long-shi Prefecture of 漳州府ChangChowFu in Hokkien - the same birthplace of the ancestors of many Danshui-ren.

[Note: the above is re-posted from]

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

翁夫人Lady Weng - Koxinga's mother

[Artist's rendition of a young Koxinga and his Mom]

It is well-known that Koxinga's mother Lady Weng (翁夫人) or Mrs Takawa (田川氏)[1601-1646] was from Hirado (平戶), Nakasaki, Japan.

Weng was the name of her stepfather 翁翊皇 [1582-1645], a blacksmith specializing in sword-making who emigrated from Hokkien and settled in Nakasaki. There is another version, that 翁翊皇 a naturalized Japanese citizen had assumed the family name of his Japanese wife, 田川, and became a low-level retainer of the Lord of Hirado 松浦隆信. His name was therefore changed to 田川翊皇. In Japan, Koxinga's mother is known as Takawa Matsu 田川松 when in fact, there was no historical record of the given name 松; it becomes so because the recent Hirado City Education Committee has determined that it was マツ [matsu], i.e., 松 [pine]. In the Cheng family history record books, she is always respectfully referred to as Lady 翁Weng. [Note: some literature even now indicate that the name 田川七左衛門 denoted Lady Weng's birth father when in fact this was her second son's name, see below.]

In 1623, Lady Weng married Koxinga's father 鄭芝龍Cheng Zhi-long who frequented Nakasaki and was becoming a successful businessman at that time. In 1624, she gave birth to Koxinga. Their second son 田川七左衛門 [or 田川次郎左衛門; 1626-1696] was adopted by Lady Weng's family and stayed in Japan. Koxinga, on the other hand, returned to China when he was 6 years old and was promptly raised in the Hokkien tradition. And because of Japan's closed-door policy, Koxinga did not see his mother again until 1645, 15 years later, when Lady Weng re-joined the family in 安平.

Lady Weng was to die in the following year when the Qing army invaded 安平.

On the 30th Day of the 11th Month in 順治三年 (1646), Qing army led by 固山韓岱 sacked 安平. This was in violation of an agreement with 鄭芝龍 who had already surrendered to the Qing on the 15th Day of the previous Month. And because of the surrender, the Cheng family was lulled into a false sense of security, so that no defenses were prepared. Koxinga, disagreeing with his father on the matter of surrender, had left 安平 and gone to Kimoy Island. The Qing army, consisting of both Manchurian and Han soldiers, came in and killed almost all residents in this small town.

There were two versions on how Lady Weng died. In one, she was raped and hanged herself; in the other, she was holding a sword and scolded 固山 before committing suicide. 江日昇's《台灣外紀·卷3》recorded that "翁氏毅然拔劍,割肚而死", i.e., she had opened her own belly with the sword [literally seppuku or harakiri]. The rape version was not credible as it is the Chinese way of insulting the deceased and her family. Lady Weng, being the daughter of a retainer of the Lord of Hirado, would have been given as a wedding gift, a 懐剣 [a short sword or dagger - now replaced with a symbolic folded fan]. Which was intended for a samurai's daughter to defend her honor, especially to avoid rape, in times of military defeat. And she knew how to use it well.

[A Japanese short sword/dagger 懐剣, given to a samurai's own daughter on her wedding day]

《靖海志·卷1》reported that Koxinga "剖其母腹,出腸滌穢,重納之以斂,發喪後遂起兵", i.e., following the Japanese way for an honorable death, Lady Weng's innards were cleansed and restored. Koxinga then mobilized his military after the funeral. His intense hatred of the Qing was not without a good reason.

Koxinga's grandson 鄭克塽 in his《鄭氏附葬祖父墓誌》stated: “翁曾祖母生於壬寅年八月十八日未時,卒於丙戌年十一月三十日巳時,享年四十有五", in short: Great Grandmother Lady Weng passed away at age forty five.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

前言 Welcome

This blog is created for those interested in the history of one of the most illustrious families in Taiwan and China, the Cheng family, or 鄭氏家族. Among the most famous is 鄭成功, known in the West as Koxinga. We will write about him and his family, and by extension, the Cheng Clan. All comments are of course welcome.