Monday, July 23, 2007
Davidson has an extensive section on Indigo in the 19th century in The Island of Formosa Past and Present, a book which should be in every library. By the late 19th century indigo was third in importance as an export after rice and coal, and first in value. However, it was produced in hill districts, where growers encountered problems with the aborigines, and later, it was supplanted by tea, necessitating imports from Swatow (now Shantou in China). Davidson said that domestic demand grew as Taiwan became wealthier as the century grew to close. It was never a plantation crop like it was elsewhere, in India, for example, but was grown as a side crop by farmers. The island also exported over 50,000 kilos of seed annually in his day (1890s). Davidson excoriates Taiwan for its lack of technological innovation, a problem that plagued many of the island's industries. Indigo in Taiwan was produced in the least valuable "mud cake" form by technology that was nowhere near as complex as that for producing sugar, but the Taiwanese never improved it. When the Japanese came in they converted indigo production to then-modern methods.
Hoping Island. But nobody seems to know about Hoping Island, thankfully. Here a truck snarls traffic. Obviously Jesus had never seen Taiwanese truck drivers, or he would have never made his famous remark about camels and needles.
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