2/20/2010

Madou (麻豆), Taiwan: Coming Home

Madou's (麻豆的) most famous restaurant: Allen's Wagui 阿蘭碗粿

We stopped off at Madou (麻豆), a suburb of Tainan, for a bowl or two of wagui, during our Lunar New Year visit to the south. The dish wagui is like hard creamy wheat, with garlic soy sauce. The restaurant pictured above is the region's most hopping place, thanks in large part to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). It was his family's destination of choice. The line-ups when we visited were long and the table-space limited. During lunch, I mentioned to my wife and her family Madou used to be called Mattau during the Dutch colonial era. It was one of 13 Aboriginal villages they kept an eye on, that were directly within their realm. My wife asked me what the word meant, but I didn't know. Obviously Madou (麻豆) is a Chinese re-working, like Koahsiung of Takao, etc.

I checked W.M. Campbell's Formosa Under the Dutch for clarification on the name, but couldn't find an answer. There are some interesting references. Campbell's book is a collection of letters, translated from Dutch into English in 1903, covering letters home from the 11 governors http://patrick-cowsill.blogspot.com/2006/09/taiwans-first-governor.html that served in Taiwan from 1624 to 1661. Here are some snippets on Madou (麻豆), previously called Mattau: "Allowance Made to Native Teacher.... While writing this, everything is progressing favourably, the Lord daily adding to His church those who will be saved. The schools are prospering. In these six villages [Soulang, Mattau, Sinkan, Bakloan, Tavakan and Tevorang] there are about six hundred school-children, some of whom can write tolerably well in Latin characters, as you will be able to see from their own writing, which our Rev. brother will take over with him. But, alas! while the harvest is great, the laborers are few" (October 7, 1643). 

Another item that catches my eye is "Destruction of the Idols" on page 165: "This took place first at Soulang on the 19th instant, and then at Mattau on the 20th, on which occasions the elders addressed those present in the name of all inhabitants in the following words: 'The Governor has now personally appeared among us as an everlasting memorial to our children and our children's children, that on this day we have cast away our idols as a sure and certain sign that, in the presence of His Excellency, we have sworn to forsake our gods and declared ourselves willing to be instructed by these venerable clergyman in the true doctrine of Jesus Christ...'" (December 12, 1637). The Dutch eventually disappeared from Taiwan's history. They were replaced by Koxinga (鄭成功) and then the Ching Dynasty followed by Japanese and KMT colonial times leading up to today's democratic period. Christianity, generally speaking, gave way to the Chinese concepts mixed with Aboriginal symbols that we have now. Interestingly, something like 80 percent of the "pure" Aborigines as they're seen by the census still view themselves as Christians. 

Madou (麻豆), which occupied such a central place in Dutch thinking (I count 42 references to Mattau in Campbell's collection of letters), has slipped into a sidebar of Taiwanese history. Mattau's undying cooperation with the Dutch gives them a particular place in Taiwan's history. Campbell's records leading up to the Dutch fall to Koxinga (鄭成功) in 1661-2 capture the following: "the Mattau people who left on April 27 [1661] for the mountains to punish the rebellious Dunckeduckians, returned with three heads which they had struck off. According to the former heathenish custom when celebrating a triumph, they began to dance round these heads and to perform other ridiculous antics."

This account is not an over-and-out for the history of Madou. There's more to this sleepy town resting beside the freeway some 10 kilometers north of Tainan than its hardened rice gruel that has intrigued Taiwan's former first family in recent years.

8 comments:

coeurdalene said...

Ah, yes, the Dutch are deeply rooted in Norse Mythology (whether they want to admit it or not). The Runes, the Asgard deities, the 9 Realms of Yggdrasil, and, of course, their Viking inclinations in battle will always stir deep within their 'Odin' genetics-- their hamingja/wyrd. But, in their defense, haven't we all danced around a few decapitated heads before? Just to see how it felt?

Anonymous said...

I love MaTao麻豆 Bun-Tan文旦. Unfortunately, it is taken over by Ysuru-Oka鶴岡 Bun-Tan文旦 from Karenko花蓮港.
ChoSan

Anonymous said...

麻豆 is mean the eye。
(Austronesian languages)

Anonymous said...

麻豆 /MA DA/
(Austronesian languages)

Kaminoge said...

The Japanese reading of the characters is "Matō".

Patrick Cowsill said...

I wonder what the Japanese called Madou 400 years ago. Japanese traders had presence in Taiwan up until July 1628, when they were expelled in dramatic fashion after taking the Dutch Governor, Pieter Nuyts, and his young son hostage.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"麻豆 is mean the eye。
(Austronesian languages)"

Mattau is a Dutch transliteration for an Austronesian language. Where did you get this information? Cheers.

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