7/24/2012

Hualien Fruit Harvest

The people doing the harvest on this Hualien (花蓮) street (below) told me it was breadfruit, but it looks more like durian. Well, maybe it's overripe breadfruit -- I'm no expert, but breadfruit seems to be smaller if not harder. It's not this juicy. 

I googled breadfruit and got the following at wiki: "Ancestors of the Polynesians found the [breadfruit] trees growing in the northwest New Guinea area 3,500 years ago. They gave up the rice cultivation they brought with them from Taiwan and raised breadfruit wherever they went in the Pacific (except Easter and New Zealand, which were too cold)."

If this is correct, breadfruit was then, ironically, introduced to Taiwan by the Dutch after they got it off the ancestors of the Taiwanese. I don't think there were any breadfruit in Taiwan before the Dutch. Here's Reverend George Canadidius' (the pioneer missionary) description of Taiwan's agriculture from 1624: "Three kinds of fruit are cultivated -- of which the first is called ptingh, the second quach, and the third taraun, which is very much like our millet -- besides two kinds of vegetable somewhat resembling our Dutch beans, with three kinds of bulb which they use instead of bread, so that if bread, rice, or other fruits were wanting, they could subsist entirely on these bulbs. The island also produces ginger, sugar-cane and melons [I don't think breadfruit counts as a melon though], but the people plant just sufficient for their wants. Bananas, cocoa-nuts and pinang are found in great abundance, with some other kinds of fruit which are not of great importance, and the names of which I am unable to pronounce in our language. This is all that their fields and gardens produce for sustaining their bodies."

In later reports, the Dutch also later claimed they introduced breadfruit, along with other crops, to Taiwan. The word for breadfruit in Dutch is breadfruit. Someone on a previous post told me that the Aboriginal word for breadfruit is bat-chit-l'ut 八支律 , which sounds like a transliteration for breadfruit. If the aboriginal people had breadfruit prior to 1624, they most certainly would have had their own name for it. Who knows? Maybe this is the word an aboriginal tribe unfamiliar with breadfruit adopted later on. But it seems unlikely, especially if we consider Taiwan's small size or trade, that an important crop would remain undetected by certain groups.  

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have seen the Breadfruit for the first time when we moved to Karenkou (花蓮港)in late 40s and we called the trees by Japanese name as Pan-no-Ki パンの樹(Bread Tree). l also have learned later that the Breadfruit trees at Tamsui (淡水)near 埔頂 area were originally brought back from Hualien (花蓮)and planted by Dr. McKay himself. It is funny that 華蓮 and 花蓮 have similar pronunciation either by Dáiwán wê or Mandarin.

Patrick Cowsill said...

Right, I need to fix that. Just being lazy and not editing closely...

Herman said...

I don't speak Japanese but I noticed the word pan-no-ki (bread tree) mentioned. Pan probably means bread. It may come from the french word for bread that's pronounced like pan, but spelled as "pain". The Japanese probably didn't eat bread before the missionary's arrival, because baking didn't seem like a practical cooking method in their kitchens. The Dutch Oven (heavy cast iron cooking pan with lid) might have introduced a change in their culinary history. But I'm total guessing here.

On the other hand, in the Chinese Buddhist scriptures, 華 and 花 are exactly equivalent in meaning. 花 was a simplified version of 華, just as 台 is a simplified word for 臺. This I'm sure as I have been to a Buddhist temple and followed their sutra recitation a few times. The pictogram 華 vaguely resembles the shape of some flower blossom if you look directly over where the petals open. This was one way some Chinese characters were formed, 象形文字, or hieroglyphs.

Anonymous said...

Japanese pronunciations "Pan" or “Pun”, written in Kana パン is Dutch original of bread since the first westerner arrived Japan is Dutch. BTW, in Japanese “a loaf of toast bread” is 食パン, meaning bread for eating and 餡パン is bread with sweet bean filling that is a Japanese invention, I guess.
I disagree with the theory that 花is abbreviation of 華 though occasionally substituted. If it is true then the communist China should write its country as 中花人民共和国 instead of 中华人民共和国.

Herman said...

Right. Let me revise my guess from French to Spanish. The Spanish word for bread is also "pan". In the old TV series "Shogun" there seemed to be a Spanish Father but no French guy. As for the Dutch, I've eaten bread with some Dutch friends. Their word for bread sounds like "brote".

I shouldn't have used the word "simplified" to describe the relation between 華 and 花. Simplified Chinese seemed to be tied exclusively to PRC. I should have used "abbreviation" or "shorthand". Here's a wiktionary entry on 華

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E8%8F%AF

EyeDoc said...

Gentlemen,

パン was derived from Portuguese pão, not French or Spanish, even though the pronunciation is the same.

Herman said...

Sure, I was a little bit argumentative there. Sorry about that, Anon (ChoSan?), and thanks for pointing that out, EyeDoc.

Kaminoge said...

EyeDoc is right about the origin of the word "pan" パン. The Portuguese were the first Westerners the Japanese encountered, not the Dutch. Some Portuguese sailors were shipwrecked on Tanegashima Island around 1542, which is also the moment when firearms were first introduced in Japan.