On Saturday we met up with friends at Mingtai High School in Wufeng to tour the extensive Lin family complex nearby.
The complex consists of several enormous homes/estates and other facilities in located along the southern border of Wufeng town. It is currently closed to the public as it is undergoing renovation. Some of it was knocked down in the 9/21 earthquake, but both the restored buildings and what remains of the original buildings offer a glimpse of life in the old days.
Our extremely animated guide, Mr. Hsieh, a local teacher.
Waiting to go in.
In the first alcove the walls are covered with information explaining the importance of the Lin family, which moved here in 1754 and became prominent from then on. Family scion Lin Shuang-wen led a revolt in 1788, while in the 1800s, the family became a key cog in the Qing dynasty system of rule by local gentry. Lin Hsien-tang, a major figure of the 1920s and 30s opposing Japanese rule, is also one of the Wufeng Lins.
A record of fame. As you enter, Chinese letters on a column proclaim: Three Generations of People's Heroes.
This section of the buildings, which took us three hours to tour, has been extensively restored.
This structure was rebuilt after a quake in the Japanese period. Note its western features, including the supporting columns.
You can get an idea of the accuracy of the color schemes and other facets of the restoration using these glimpses of the old structure that remain. The restoration produces what one of us called a "facsimile" of the old building. Apparently, western ideas of "historical accuracy" are not a factor in local assessments of what constitutes a "historical" presentation. My own sense is that a site becomes an acceptable historical site in Taiwan if it looks like other "restorations" in Taiwan, not if it makes an attempt to accurately reflect what the old site looked or felt like.
The women's quarters. There was no furniture -- the buildings were all owned by different Lin families, who all had different attitudes and levels of wealth.
In this post-1920 building, note the western-style windows.
Another view of the bright colors.
Our guide dramatizes.
Stonework, old and new, lies next to the site.
The view through a doorway.
In this house, the most fascinating area was the stage that the Lins erected for the entertainment of their retainers and servants.
Here the actors prepared for their appearances.
On the stage.
Where the audience sat.
The ceiling above the stage.
The stage, from the audience.
"Wherefore art thou, Romeo?"
The area around the stage was large enough to permit the hundreds of troops and servants to watch. Not only did the complex have quarters for several hundred troops, it had over 200 servants, and boasted stables, food processing, and storage areas, as well as workshops for the manufacture of guns and powder.
In some places old pillar bases remain.
Note the odd angle of the chairs....
...and the beautiful old wall paneling.
Taking a break.
We left that set of buildings and went to another, older set of structures next door that was not yet restored and still contained many old architectural elements.
The hexagon means "long life."
Note the old windows.
Another view of the old windows.
Tucked away in the corner was what appeared to be a Shinto shrine. Nothing that hinted of Japan was retained in the restored areas we had visited previously.
In many of the buildings could be seen old paintings, artwork, calligraphy, and woodwork.
Like this stuff.
There were interesting architectural elements, like the central window here....
...and this interior window.
Wondering about the pink and blue color scheme not really looking very Chinese? It's the kids' quarters.
Both the woodcarving and the painting were amazing.
Imagine it a century ago, filled with scurrying servants, children of all ages, pigs, dogs, plants....
Back and back it goes, never seeming to stop, revealing one house after another.
The building next to that one is closed, and we only saw the outside, which offered this roof barbarian....
...who wore glasses.
Our next stop was this house, dating from 1909. It is a private residence, so I am not showing any pictures here.
After that we visited the home of Lin Hsien-tang, the famous figure of the Home Rule movements during the 1920s and 1930s.
The impressive old gate...
Mr. Hsieh explains that the circles meant money, and if you look at the designs above the windows, you will realize that this was the accountant's house.
Much of the carving and painting remains.
Note the painted clock.
The walls were covered with paintings like these.
Japanese style buildings housed the servants.
This house was where Lin sheltered mainlanders during 2-28 from the Taichung mobs who were out to kill them.
Another view of the courtyard.
The Lin family school, now a wreck due to 9/21.
We ended where we started, at the Lin family facilities on the grounds of Mingtai.