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‘The Dream Map — Kangxi Taiwan Maps, Family Reunion’

  • Date:2020-03-10
‘The Dream Map — Kangxi Taiwan Maps, Family Reunion’

Drawing from its unparalleled anthropology collection, the National Taiwan Museum (NTM) will be holding a special exhibition to display a Qing-era map of Taiwan — one of the museum's most-coveted artifacts — alongside historic reproductions and restored editions. While the Taipei-based exhibition will run from March 10 to Aug. 30, the museum has also made a free virtual introduction to the original map.

Titled "The Dream Map — Kangxi Taiwan Maps, Family Reunion," the exhibition will focus on the "Antique Map of Taiwan during the Kang-Xi Period (康熙臺灣輿圖)," which is widely acknowledged as the most ancient map of Taiwan that remains today. While two historic reproductions will also be on view, a newly retouched version of the vintage original is set to make its public debut at the exhibition as well.

Dated between 1699 and 1704, the "Antique Map of Taiwan during the Kang-Xi Period" vividly depicts the geographical and cultural landscapes of western Taiwan. With its detailed account of administrative divisions, military bases, transportation networks, and life in rural and urban areas during the Qing Dynasty, the map is a succinct epitome of Taiwan's socio-cultural life during that era.

Painted with delicate brushwork and turquoise pigments, the antique map features exquisite beauty that can only be observed in traditional landscape paintings. Ino Kanori (伊能嘉矩), a late Japanese anthropologist, once praised it as "the best map of its kind." In 2010, the map received designation as a national treasure of Taiwan.

However, the map is missing a large section of regions further south than Kaohsiung, and efforts to completely restore the artifact have been unsuccessful. Meanwhile, the two reproductions, which were both made in the earlier half of the 20th century, present a more holistic image of Taiwan.

While the two historic reproductions are possibly the most widespread maps of Qing-era Taiwan, they are considerably different than the original one in terms of content, color, painting style, and calligraphic font. There are also some inaccurate descriptions and defects.

"The Dream Map" project was thus launched in 2016 to produce a digital map that is as close as possible to the original one and filled with the missing parts. A same-sized paper map was subsequently constructed from the digital version and framed with the same method as the original map.

Offering unmissable insights into the history of Taiwan at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, this dream reunion of historic maps will run through Aug. 30 in Taipei's National Taiwan Museum.

‘The Dream Map – Kangxi Taiwan Maps, Family Reunion’
Date: March 10 – Aug. 30, 2020
Venue: National Taiwan Museum
Address: No. 2 Xiangyang Rd., Taipei City, Taiwan (ROC)