Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Paper on Parade: Hizen Porcelain and Global Trade in the era of Koxinga

Hizen porcelain finds and galleon wreck sites. In addition to giving a taste of the size of the trade, this chart also shows that under no circumstances do you want to be traveling in a galleon named Concepcion.

Today's paper, On Hizen porcelain and the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade (Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Bulletin 26), by Takenori Nogami, looks at the trade in Hizen porcelain, which is not a Chinese but a Japanese porcelain exported from what was Hizen province in Kyushu until it was split between the Saga and Nagasaki prefectures after the Meiji Restoration. Porcelain making got its start there after Hideyoshi Toyotomi attacked Korea in the 1590s and brought back Korean pottery experts, who settled in Hizen province. There they discovered the materials for making porcelain, and gradually a thriving industry grew.

Taiwan enters the picture in the 17th century with the advent of the Manchus. The fighting in China cut off shipments of Chinese porcelain, and Hizen porcelain soon came to dominate not only the Japanese domestic market but also overseas markets that had formerly been controlled by the Chinese. The Dutch exported enormous quantites stamped with VOC (Dutch East India Company) between 1650 and 1750. As Nogami notes:
"The Qing administration restricted maritime access to China between 1656 and 1684 to reduce the power of Zheng Chenggong (Coxinga), who resisted the Qing forces because sea trade supported his power. After the export of Chinese porcelain almost stopped, Zheng began to deal in Hizen porcelain because he could not get access to Chinese porcelain. Thus, he became the most important merchant for the exportation of Hizen porcelain. As a result of the reduction of the quantity of Chinese porcelain for export, the number of kilns in Hizen producing export wares suddenly increased, and Hizen wares spread in the overseas market, many pieces being found in sites in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia.(p125)"
In Taiwan history we often view Zheng Cheng-gong (Koxinga) in purely local terms, as the man who booted the Dutch out and set up his own little kingdom here, but seldom do we explore what the Zheng state meant in terms of the local political and economic structure of the East Asian littoral. It's sort of the historiagraphical version of the Taiwan identity, which appears to mean not so much being Taiwanese as it is being oblivious to everything that happens outside the island. But the Zheng state was a trading state interested in getting a share of the booming trade of the 17th century in the region.

Nogami then goes on to discuss his finds of shards of Hizen porcelain in Manila and elsewhere in the Spanish Philippines. The problem of Hizen porcelain is simple: who brought it to Manila. Only the Dutch and Chinese were allowed to trade with Japan until the 19th century, and the Dutch could not have approached Manila because the were Protestants, while Spain was Catholic. Therefore the porcelain must have traveled on Chinese bottoms, and Nogami hypothesizes that some of the cities in Taiwan must have functioned as way-stations for the Hizen porcelain trade. Zheng was "the most important merchant" dealing in Hizen porcelain of the time, and his ships plied back and forth between Japan, the Fukien coast which he controlled into the late 1650s, carrying porcelain, though no Hizen porcelain has been found there (it is known from Macao). Nogami says:
"[The Zhengs] engaged in China – Taiwan - Manila or Japan – Taiwan - Manila trade between 1662 and 1683. Therefore, Tainan was one of the most important relay-ports of Hizen porcelain trade. Fang Zhen-zhen (2003) has researched the records of customs in Manila and discusses the relationship between Manila and Taiwan in the second half of the 17th century. She notes that fifty-one ships sailed from Taiwan to Manila between 1664 and 1684. She notes the cargoes of these ships included “Japanese dishes” (Fang 2003: 82).(p128)"
Sure enough, the Zheng capital of Tainan has yielded both types of Hizen porcelain -- wares designed for local use, along with a few shards of a type specifically intended for export to European markets.

The Hizen pottery that transshipped through Tainan left Manila on the tortuous galleon routes bound for Mexico, where they returned with Mexican silver, in the form of silver dollars widely acceptance as currency in China. As Nogami describes at the end of his piece, a few shards of identifiably Hizen pottery have been found in Mexico, unearthed in a subway dig, and in Guatemala. In both cases they were identified by the finders as Chinese, but Nogami believes that they are actually Hizen, of the type exported to Manila.

Thus, through the humble prism of Hizen porcelain, we can get a glimpse of how the Zheng state and Taiwan participated in the first great era of globalized trade that connected Madrid, Manila, and Mexico city in a vast network of exchange.
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SY said...

One record should be set straight:

There is a misconception that Coxinga had a lot to do with Taiwan. The truth is that the Dutch capitulated in Feb 1662 and Coxinga died in June the same year. During that 4 months, he was travelling between Taiwan and the Holo Land in the Amoy area, plotting to take the Philipines. He died before he could achieve his ambitious goal of building a kingdom of sea trading (his father and his Japanese grandfather were sea pirates. As you know, he was born in Japan and didn't leave Japan until he was 7. So, don't believe that he would've been loyel to "China", a concept that didn't exist until early 1900's)

It means that Coxinga really did not have a lot to do with Taiwan during his life time. The real ruler and the person who actually ran "The Kingdom of Tayvan" (or "The Kingdom of Taiwan") was his son, who was saluted as "Your Highness, the King of Tayvan" in all diplomatic documents such as in his communication with England.

The Kingdom's Hanzi name was "東寧王國" (Kingdon of Eastern Peace) and the son of Coxinga was the 東寧王 (The King of Eastern Peace). Today's Tainan City still has a street called 東寧路 ("Eastern Peace" Road) near NCKU. One wonders why Tainan City has a festival in honor of Coxinga as opposed to his son, the King of Tayvan.

In the map you show, Tayvan is denoted as "Tainan", a name given to the area much later by the Japanese. "Tayvan" was the name used by the local arborigines to refer to the coastal sandy wetland area (aka "Kunsin" - "鯤鯓") where the Holo immigrants lived.

Gradually, "Tayvan" was used to refer to the broader area (today's greater Tainan area) and eventually to the whole island. Today, it is spelt "Taiwan". Note that in Holo Taiwanese the second syllable is pronounced with rising tone (even today), indicating that today's Hanzi "台灣" is only a mimicing translation.

What I wrote above is not well known among the Taiwanese because the history of Taiwan was basically a taboo subject before mid-1990's and has only been lightly touched in school for the past 10 or so years. Today, the Chinese Nationalists (of KMT) are still trying very hard to solely own the interpretation of Taiwan's history.

NOTE: In historic documents, "Tayvan" was sometimes spelt "Tayovan", "Tayoan" or "Taivan". In the 17th century, the Netherlands did't have a unified spelling system.

Aì Tâi-oân said...

Quite enjoyed reading this post. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The Book Pirate King gives a rollicking account.

Anonymous said...

"What I wrote above is not well known among the Taiwanese because the history of Taiwan was basically a taboo subject before mid-1990's and has only been lightly touched in school for the past 10 or so years."

Rather, the history is constantly being parsed to be more congruent with the Chinese national narrative. Many historical locations have visitor information which is steeped in ideology. Cheng and pre Cheng Taiwan is often included in the Ming dynastic dates. The Chengs are usually portrayed as "retaking" Taiwan from the Dutch. It is always portrayed from the Chinese nationalist's cosmological point of view. Often the English translation is better than the Chinese.

Islander said...

SY- great post! I trace my lineage to the early days of Tainan and greatly appreciate your insight into my birth town and Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

That was a great post, SY, Can you provide the pronunciation of Tayvan in ASCII IPA? I'm no sure if it's [tHaivCn] or [tHevCn].

I think the Hakka call Taiwan [tHoIvCn], so perhaps they preserved the name with a little vowel-shifting.

Many thnks.

SY said...

I am not familiar with the ASCII denotation of IPA but the pronuciation of Tayvan is as follows:

1. "t" = unaspired t (as in French or as in Dutch spoken in most regions of the Netherlands).

2. "ay" = "ai" (as in "T_ai_wan"). However, the original Siraya sound must have had a strong stress on the "i" ("yi") sound because the Dutch sometimes denoted the whole word as "Tayovan" (the Hanzi transcription in ancient documents was "臺窩員", based on the Holo pronuciation.)

3. "v" = "v" (the Dutch pronounce it with a slight puff; sounding like something between English "v" and "f"; there is an IPA symbole for this sound.) Since the original sound was from the Siraya language, its original form is presumed to have been the "v" sound in English; i.e. without the Dutch soft puff.

4. "an" = "ahn".

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I made some mistakes earlier. Though there is an informal notation called ASCII IPA, I was actually thinking of X-SAMPA, which is a more recognized standard.

I also goofed in X-SAMPA transcription, due to lack of practice. The capital 'H' should have been '_h', which is how aspiration is indicated. I had thought that the alveolar stop [t] in 'Tayvan' was aspirated, but you've corrected me.

The capital 'C' should have been 'O', which is the open-mid back rounded vowel.

The Hakka word for "Taiwan" is [t_hoivOn].

I can see how the Siraya ['taIvOn] got converted into the Holo [taI 33 w@n 24].