Saturday, September 09, 2006

Photos from a 1956 Grolier World Countries Guide

One of the things I like doing is collecting old photos of Taiwan. Here are some taken in the 1950s and originally published in the article entitled "Formosa: China's Island Province" in a set of guides to the countries of the world published by Grolier.

The text surrounding the photos is itself a rather strange artifact. After a few paragraphs of discussion of Taiwan's history to 1895, it focuses on the headhunting aborigines of Taiwan, who, with "such religion as they profess," worship the god of rain -- "theft is almost unknown" among them. This despite the fact that in the first half of 1950s the aborigines had gone twenty years without taking a head, spoke Japanese as their lingua franca, and were converting to Christianity en masse. All of the pictures, however, are devoted to the Han people of the island -- none show any aborigines -- but only a few paragraphs of error-plagued text (displayed below) discuss the modern period, and none talk about the customs of the local Chinese.

Note the mixture of Chinese and Japanese names on the map.

A policeman directing traffic.

If you liked these, don't miss my page of photos from the National Geographic of 1920.


Sun Bin said...

i guess we do not need to nitpick on the errors or these old texts. given the lack of information (there was not google in 1956), the author probably just try to get anything handy and compile such as book. since japan probably has done most of the documents (50 years there), it is no surprise that these authors were only able to find japanese names/maps. similarly to the aborigines -- all results of data availability.

Chingyi said...

Thanks for the posting. I too enjoy viewing (no collection just yet) old Taiwan photos. Growing up in southern Taiwan, I always appreciate photos of this kind, which remind me my grandparents and their old village. The images make the stories I heard about their generation and generations before them, real.


taipeimarc said...

Thanks for sharing Michael. I added a link to your pics in my Vintage Taiwan Gallery.

I just added around 100 new photos as well - check it out whenever you have time.

Anonymous said...

The caption under the photo of the guy burning ghost money is well worth whatever you paid for the book!

Anonymous said...

The caption under the photo of the guy burning ghost money is well worth whatever you paid for the book!

barcelonamade said...

Hello! Do you know where can I obtain some old pictures from Taiwan? I am in Taiwan and I would like to buy some.
Thanks in advance!