8. Flags and seals distributed to Paiwan chiefs

The Relics of Modern Japan's First Foreign War in Colonial and Postcolonial Taiwan, 1874-2015

8. Flags and seals distributed to Paiwan chiefs

Sources: Left: Courtesy of National Taiwan Museum, AH001331 明治7年 (1874) 日軍進攻牡丹社時所發「蕃社歸順保護旗第53號」. Right: Inō Kanori, Taiwanshi (Tokyo: Fuzanbō, 1902). 

Three days after the Battle of Stone Gate, six emissaries and chiefs from the eighteen tribes of Langqiao (Hengchun) visited Sheliao to parley with the Japanese army. At one important meeting on May 25, 1874, the Japanese are said to have distributed sixteen flags to the Tjuavalji 射麻里社 headman, Isa, who then passed them along to other villages allied against Mudan and Kusukut.[1] There was another meeting on June 8, at which flags and other gifts were presented to Paiwan emissaries.[2] In July, at a meeting that included the recently vanquished Mudan representatives, more flags were distributed. In all, over fifty flags were issued; by 1935, two remained in the colonial museum (including the one pictured here), and a few were still kept by descendants of the original recipients.[3] While the Japanese troops were stationed in Hengchun—through December 1874—these flags alerted soldiers of the peaceful intentions of the bearers, while signifying “submission” to Japan. The flag still held in the National Taiwan Museum in Taipei (left) is signed “Meiji 7 June 10th.” When Sagara Nagatsuna held his first official audience as Japanese prefect of Hengchun in November 1895, the Ciljasuak 豬朥束 headman, Pan Wenjie 潘文杰 , attended, bearing one of these flags, which he had received from Saigō twenty-one years before.[4] In addition to distributing the flags, Japanese officers issued placards (lower right), which identified a headman by village name and personal name, and announced his “submission.” Schematic drawings of the flags and placards appear in at least three published books from the colonial period, while photographs of the flags are even more numerous.


[1] Shidehara, Nanpō bunka no kensetsu e, 358–359.

[2] Sugiyama Yasunori, ed. Taiwan meisho kyūseki-shi (Tokyo: Taiwan Government General, 1916), 265.

[3] Yamamoto Un'ichi, “Kōgun no banjin buiku ni tsuite (shita),” Riban no tomo, June 1, 1934, 4.

[4] Miyaguni, Taiwan sōnan jiken, 311.