Thursday, December 23, 2010

Koxinga's sister (Part 2): Cheng Wan鄭婉

[Above: an old house in Tainan 姑爺庄 where 鄭婉 and her husband 楊瑞璉 supposedly settled; they lived in the No 33 house]

Except for a prominent few, ladies were rarely mentioned in Taiwan history . It is unknown how many Koxinga sisters were there. In Taiwan, local lore of them, both named and unnamed, abounded. The most popular ones are those on 鄭婉Cheng Wan. While Ursola de Bargas can be found in the Franciscan documents, 鄭婉 never appeared in any official or family records. Different versions of her stories, however, have been re-told in southern Taiwan for the past 340 years. For example,

(1) that she had married 楊瑞璉 and the couple followed Koxinga to Taiwan. Koxinga rewarded them by asking Yang to ride a fast horse for 3 days and 3 nights, and the lands along the way that he had traveled were all his to own. [There is, however, no record of Yang in Ming-Cheng history.]

(2) that 鄭婉 traveled by a sedan-chair from 姑爺庄 to Tainan. In the evening when in 麻豆, she was ambushed by bandits. She scolded them vowing retaliation. The bandits, upon learning her identity, murdered her and dumped her body in a creek. Overnight, a grave appeared in the middle of the creek. Even flooding could not destroy it.

姑爺庄 [literally the "village of Koxinga's brother-in-law"] is located in 新營, Tainan County. It made news in recent years:

1. 新營楊姑爺 古墓藏傳奇( 8/14/2005 8:29:10 AM

This piece of news reiterated variations of the old stories except that investigation by the Township office revealed that 鄭婉 might have been married to 黃, not Yang. Also, her grave site was still present in 1951; although it has since disappeared.



新營市姑爺里的開基祖楊瑞璉,相傳是鄭成功的妹婿,鄭成功的妹妹鄭婉下嫁楊瑞璉,人稱「楊姑爺」,姑爺里(俗稱姑爺庄 )即因他而得名。










2. In a China Times report on May 19, 2007, the tomb of the husband of Koxinga's sister is slated for excavation in June:

中國時報 2007.05.19 
三百年物換星移 傳說中 鄭成功妹婿古墓 6月開挖










We are not aware of any follow-ups regarding the excavation of Yang's tomb since this news report.

Then there are stories on Koxinga's other unnamed sisters. One was executed for bringing too many valuables while evacuating to Taiwan from Amoy. Another traveled to Taiwan to visit Koxinga, and on her way back through Peng-hu, her ship was blocked by two battling beings, one a serpent and the other a turtle. Both were slain by Koxinga leaving a streak of blood on the bottom of the sea that can still be seen today.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Koxinga's sister (Part 1): Ursola de Bargas

[Koxinga's birthplace in 平戶Hirado in Nagasaki - known as 兒誕石]

According to the writing of Franciscan missionary to China, Fr Antonio de Santa Maria Caballelo (1602-1669), 鄭芝龍Cheng Zhi-lung's daughter married one of the sons of Mr Manuel Bello, a Portuguese resident of Macau. Another Franciscan, Fr Bonaventura Ibanez (1610-1691) also reported that Bello and his son Antonio Rodrigues, both of whom Macau-born Portuguese came to call on him in 安海An-Hai. And during the visit, Rodrigues had described his wedding to Lord Cheng's daughter, Ursola de Bargas, in Macau.

This is the little known chapter of the Cheng family history. Indeed, Ursola was Koxinga's sister from the same Japanese mother, Lady Weng [翁夫人 - 田川松Takawa Matsu]. Her Chinese/Japanese name remains unknown.

鄭芝龍 had never forgotten this branch of his family. In May, 1630, after several unsuccessful attempts through emissaries, 鄭芝龍 finally sent 鄭芝燕 his own brother to hand-carry a letter to the Daimyo of Nakasaki asking that his family members be released. In the Tokukawa Period, however, no Japanese citizens were allowed to emigrate. Outraged, Lord Cheng dispatched a fleet of 10 warships to Japan threatening retaliation. After some negotiation, only the then 7-year-old Koxinga was let go. Lady Weng stayed behind to take care of her second son 田川七左衛門, then barely one year old. Apparently, a daughter was also left behind with the mother.

Perhaps to honor 鄭芝龍, his daughter was brought up a devout Christian [even though Lady Weng was not in this faith]. She arrived in Macau with other Christians in 1636 to escape the religious persecution then the rage in Japan. She was evidently quite well cared for by the Portuguese.

[The St Paul Cathedral in Macau built in 1582-1602, destroyed in 1835 by typhoon and fire]

Upon learning the arrival of his daughter in Macau, Lord Cheng demanded the custody which the citizens of Macau refused citing that Cheng (known in Macau as Nicholas Iquan) was no longer a practicing Christian and that his daughter, if returned to China, would be residing in a land with no churches. Lord Cheng initially threatened to bring 500-1,000 warships to attack Macau but relented later.

[Macau, ca 1640]

The father and daughter were finally united in 1646. This was because Lord Cheng, instead of taking hostages, had taken very good care the crew of a Portuguese ship that had sunk in his territory. In gratitude, the Portuguese in Macau decided not to block the re-union any longer. At the same time, Lord Cheng made a promise to his daughter that he'd build a church to accommodate her and other Christians. It was indeed built inside his 138-acre seaside compound in An-Hai in 晉江. This cathedral was decorated with icons and portraits of Jesus, Virgin Mary, and Christian saints complete with preaching and regular services. This was also where the two aforementioned Franciscans met up with Ursola and her husband Antonio Rodrigues.

After 鄭芝龍's surrender, the couple returned to Macau in 1655 when Koxinga decided to fight against the Qing and restore the Ming. He burned down the compound with everything in it to re-group in Amoy. It is known that Rodrigues became a sea captain at least until 1678.

For two long years, Mr Manuel Bello stayed with his in-law Lord Cheng when the latter was imprisoned by the Qing. For unknown reasons, Bello was spared the death sentence when Lord Cheng together with 10 immediate family members were executed in 1661.