6. Paiwan emissaries armed to the teeth, 1874

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

6. Paiwan emissaries armed to the teeth, 1874

Sources: Left: James W. Davidson, The Island of Formosa Past and Present  (London: Macmillan, 1903), 146. Right: Courtesy of the National Taiwan Museum, AH001396 1874 年牡丹社事件時西郷從道與幕僚及臺灣原住民合照.

Pictured here are the leaders of various Paiwan villages who visited Japanese headquarters for a variety of reasons during the 1874 Japanese expedition. These encounters are invariably referred to as “submission” and “surrender” events in colonial-period Japanese documents, though it is doubtful that all participants viewed these events as such. Copies of these two photos were given to U.S. consul to Taiwan James W. Davidson by Admiral Saigō Jūdō in 1902.[1] They are the earliest and most-circulated photographs of the Paiwan participants in the Mudan Village Incident. Japanese troops began landing in Taiwan on May 10, 1874. By May 25, various representatives of Paiwan villages began parleys with Japanese officials through an interpreter named Johnson, an American captain named Cassell, and the headman of Sheliao Village, named Miya.[2] Subsequently, Saigō Jūdō himself held audiences through November 1874. According to a frequently referenced 1936 source, the photo on the right of Paiwan people at Saigō’s headquarters was photographed on November 27. Here, Saigō is seated in the center; his Chinese-language interpreter, and the future Taiwanese General Minister of Civil Affairs, Mizuno Jun, lies on his side smoking a thin pipe. The Paiwan emissaries in this photo have not all been identified, but Isa of Tjuavalji 射麻里社, who acted as an intermediary between Saigō and the other allied villages, is probably seated near Saigō. The man with the cocked derby hat is likely the interpreter, “Johnson,” who also appears in Xie Wende’s 2009 mural, but for some reason was edited out of the published etchings based on this photograph. Published etchings of both of these photographs are reversed from the photographic print, and frequently erroneously captioned.[3] In each, the Paiwan men are heavily armed and exhibit none of the signs of submission attributed to them. It is likely that these men considered themselves allies, and not vassals, of the visiting Japanese forces.[4]


[1] James W. Davidson, The Island of Formosa Past and Present (New York: Macmillan, 1903), ii.

[2] Shidehara Hiroshi, Nanpō bunka no kensetsu e (Tokyo: Fuzanbō, 1938), 356–359.

[3] See Paul D. Barclay, “Commander Saigo and his Paiwan Allies: The History and Transformations of an 1874 Photograph,” East Asia Image Collection Blog, http://sites.lafayette.edu/eastasia/2015/12/02/the-group-portrait-of-commander-saigo-and-his-paiwan-allies/, accessed December 2, 2015.

[4] See Douglas L. Fix, “Aboriginal Portraits and Ethnic Categories: Re-viewing Nineteenth-Century Portraiture in Context,” paper presented at the 2014 International Conference on Formosan Indigenous Peoples: Contemporary Perspectives, Academia Sinica, Taipei, September 15–17, 2014.