淡水/滬尾的歷史 - The history of Tamsui/Hobé/Taiwan and much more
And happy holidays to you and your family. It's been a pleasure and privilege reading you blog.I've read the book 一九四九大江大海 and saw the picture of you in there. Bright eyes you have. In another part of the book there's a story about a Taiwanese serving the Japanese army and his first training was "slapping each other's face". That makes your Taiwanese Internee post a good companion reading.By the way, the couplet in the picture seems to have very flowery classical style language, but doesn't make much sense. Is there a story behind that?
Indeed there is a story. These are the 門神, guarding one of three gates of 淡水福佑宮 (媽祖宮). The temple was built in 1796 by several families including mine. A cousin is scheduled to assume one of the inherited trusteeships soon."天為聖母海島渡慈航，后顯神靈人間傳玉燕。" is one of the 49 sets of 對聯 inside the temple. The first two words 天+后 = 媽祖.The said soldier in training was later to become a sentry at POW camps, one of the few. The majority were combat soldiers or who served in medical corps, transport and supply.The picture is at the end of the book meaning you have in fact read the entire book. Perhaps you'll understand a bit of Taiwan's pre-1949 past - one of Prof Lung's intentions for writing it.
OK, that makes it a bit clearer. I've heard of 媽祖 often but don't really know anything about her. So I guess she's a deity that has something to do with island, swallow, and guiding troubled voyages safely home, based on what's in the 對聯. It's amazing that your family was involved in the temple building. I myself have some interest in traditional woodworking and hope someday I may meet some Taiwanese traditional carpentry masters and see their work.I should re-read the 大江大海 book. I remember roughly the first half of the book was about tragic family separations in China as people left there to come to Taiwan. And the second half I remember two stories. One is that soldier as he was trained to be a POW camp guard (and I imagined about THE BRIDGE OVER RIVER KWAI). The other is about vice President 蕭萬長. He being a boy at that time was prompted by his mother to offer an incense to the body of an respected Taiwanese representative, who was executed by KMT around the time KMT took over control of Taiwan from Japan. Those were before 1949, maybe before the 228 incident. I read that book before I saw your blog. So if I go back to the book the dates and events in there probably will be more meaningful.
A quick history of 媽祖, the guardian of fishermen. Her original name was 林默娘 (960-987 AD), a well-known 孝女 (the reason why she was deified). She was mistaken as Virgin Mary of the East by early western missionaries. Her descendants actually still live in Taiwan.Temples in Tamsui are known for stonework and pottery sculptures. There maybe some woodwork as well, I'll look into it the next time I visit these sites. Incidentally, Cho-San's father was involved in the construction of 清水組師廟, uphill about 100 ft from 媽祖宮.Mr 蕭萬長 did witness the execution of 潘木枝醫師. Many physicians were killed during the 228 Incident. This, unfortunately, has a chilling effect: no doctors in Taiwan participated in politics since.There is also a companion DVD to the book, "目送1949─龍應台的探索", produced by 王小棣 and directed by 黃黎明. You may find it interesting as well.