9. Paiwan families with relics from the Japanese expedition

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

9. Paiwan families with relics from the Japanese expedition

Sources: Left: East Asia Image Collection, Lafayette College. Right: Suzuki Hideo, ed., Taiwan banzoku no tenbō (Taipei: Riban no tomo, 1935). 

The postcard on the left is from the late 1910s or early 1920s. It shows that many leading Paiwan families safeguarded the relics of the 1874 expedition as heirlooms or keepsakes. Curiously, this postcard makes no textual reference to the battles, to Saigō, or to “the incident.” The large earrings worn by the standing men would have connoted the shipwreck to Japanese history buffs, since the frequently reproduced accounts of the Ryūkyūan survivors called Paiwan people the “big-eared people”(大耳ノ人) in reference to their ornamentation.[1] The photograph on the right appeared in a 1935 catalog for the Taiwan Exposition, a large affair that drew over 2.7 million visitors to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Japanese colonial rule.[2] According to a Japanese publication for “Aborigine Territory” policemen, the man holding the flag is “The Headman Batogaton Jajimaratto of Outer Kachirai Village, in Hengchun District.”[3] In addition to the flag, the two men in the photo display one of many surviving copies of an admonition issued by Saigō on November 27, 1874, warning the Paiwan people to obey Qing officials and refrain from engaging in further treachery.[4] Photographs of this admonition appeared in many prewar publications, though not as frequently as the tombstones and the flags. In addition to flags, Saigō distributed liquor, guns, cloth, and jewelry to Paiwan emissaries to his camp. The weapon displayed in the photograph is probably one such gift. Saigō himself received a large silver bracelet at one meeting with Paiwan chiefs and is said to have worn it until the eve of his death in 1902.


[1] Miyaguni, Taiwan sōnan jiken, 290.

[2] Yamaji Katsuhiko, Kindai Nihon no shokuminchi hakurankai (Tokyo: Fūkyōsha, 2008), 231.

[3] Fujisaki Seinosuke, “Kabayama Sōtoku to riban (ni),” Riban no tomo, September 1, 1935, 4.

[4] Sugiyama, Taiwan meisho kyūseki-shi, 265; Shidehara, Nanpō bunka no kensetsu e, 366.