Expanding into the growing economies of Southeast Asia was the dream of every earnest businessman in Taiwan during the early decades of the 20th century.
Ting-lan Tsai, a Qing government official and native of Taiwan's Penghu Archipelago, was the first Taiwanese known to have written a travelogue of his experiences overseas, after being shipwrecked along the coast of Central Vietnam in 1836. The trickle of Taiwanese into the region over the subsequent century significantly increased after the start of the Pacific War in 1941 when Japan, of which Taiwan was a colony, occupied much of the region.
This exhibition begins with the historically important cross-border marriage between two powerful families in, respectively, Banqiao (northern Taiwan) and Medan (northern Sumatra, Indonesia). This ' joining of forces' set the framework for the introduction and transformation of classical Taiwanese poetry in Southeast Asia.
Queeny Chang's autobiography Memories of a Peranakan sets the stage for this exhibition' s introduction to how Taiwanese classical poetry traditions took root and ultimately thrived in the 'Southern Realms'. From the distinct and circumspect perspective of Peranakan women, this exhibition reveals the unique set of historical conditions that led Taiwan' s Lin family to breach national and, linguistic to form indelible links with its new home in Southeast Asia. It created a unique body of work that added beautiful new threads to this region's richly polychromatic tapestry.