Saturday, June 21, 2014

鄭成功 and 金門

There is a recent saying that “金門人不喜歡鄭成功People of Kinmoy do not like Koxinga”, because all the trees in 金門 had been cut down to build ships for the invasion of Taiwan (in 1661). As a result, the island was laid bare with no greenery in sight, and people had suffered since, etc.

This tree issue appears erroneous. First, the whole 金門 island is a huge piece of rock with very little top soil. It would not have supported forests of any size. And wood used in ship-building is not just any wood. There are different types of ships and each requires different materials. A search turns up this interesting reference: “...南林教授曾对南京明代宝船厂遗址出土的大量与造船有关的木材进行了鉴定,采集了236个出土朽木样品,其中有杉木、松木、柚木、格木、娑罗双树、 锥木、杯裂香、柿木8种树材。” In other words, these are all huge tall trees suitable for putting together large ocean-faring warships. In 金門? Probably only 相思樹 could grow, a recent photo is shown below:
The "trees" in Kinmoy
It is highly doubtful that such "trees" can be used to make ships of any kind.

A good guess is that Koxinga's soldiers probably did chop them down for firewood; however, it would have been quite easy to re-grow these bushes unless the residents of 金門 chose not to. Some scholars appear to cite a certain 金門縣志 of the Qing era with regard to the "deforestation". Given the 清史's dubious nature as far as 鄭成功 (in fact, 胡說八道nonsensical smears), this record is also questionable.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Cheng Map of China

In 2008, an old map was rediscovered in the Bodleian Library of Oxford University, after more than 350 years of neglect. It is now known as The Selden Map of China, named after its donor John Selden (1584-1654). The map appeared to have been made in ca 1624. After extensive restoration, it is now on display and also available on line, see:

Tonio Andrade has proposed in his book, "Lost Colony: the Untold Story of China's First Great Victory over the West" (2011 Princeton Univ Press), that the map might have been created by the Cheng Family, perhaps under the supervision of 鄭芝龍Cheng Zi-long (p 23). If true, then Selden's Map is actually the Cheng Map of China, 鄭芝龍航海圖.

Of particular interest are the markers denoting Taiwan which appears as two islands on the map. The one in the north 北港 might be the seaport of the same name in modern-day Yun-lin; although it could also be an ancient now disused name of Taiwan. In the south, 加里林 appeared to be the now 佳里 in Tainan. There are also several small islands off the north shore. They were probably Keelung or the 宮古群島. To the west of Taiwan was of course Hokkien with the major cities clearly marked out. 泉州 was the home base of the Cheng Clan.

Tomothy Brook in his "Mr. Selden's Map of China" (Bloomsbury Press, 2013) has suggested that the map "could have had impact on European cartographers" but didn't, for "by the time the map is on display in Oxford, it was too late to make any difference". How true.

Oddly, as far as the relationship between 鄭芝龍 and his mentor 李旦, Brook quoting from Andrade, as one of an unconfirmed homosexual nature. Much like the putative rape of Koxinga's mother Lady Weng, insinuating someone has been sexually violated is a traditional Chinese insult, a way of tarnishing his or her reputation. The official Qing history is fairly dubious in its claims when it comes to the Cheng Clan; unfortunately, the lies are still being perpetuated by students of this part of the history.