Antique Map of Taiwan during the Kang-Xi Period

Antique Map of Taiwan during the Kang-Xi Period

National Treasure

National Treasure Intro

The Antique Map of Taiwan during the Kang-Xi Period is in the National Taiwan Museum’s collection. It is the earliest and most complete map of Taiwan written in Chinese, which means it is exceptionally rare. In addition, this map bears great academic value for it provided a blueprint for the Map of Taiwan During the Yongzheng Period and the Map of Taiwan During the Qianlong Period ; the three maps together demonstrate the changes of Taiwan’s human landscape and the evolution of the Qing dynasty’s territory in Taiwan. Its depiction of the natural environment, military deployment, and urban and rural life in western Taiwan from north to south in the 17th and 18th centuries shows the social and cultural life at that time and provides a snapshot of the geographical knowledge the Qing dynasty had of Taiwan. On the basis of its special historical, cultural and academic value, it was designated as a national treasure in 2010.

When was this map produced? How did it happen to come to Taiwan? According to Yamanaka Kikori, the director of the Library of Government-General of Taiwan, this map was brought out from the Qing Imperial Household Department during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, and was brought to the Government-General’s Office by the Zheng family in Hsinchu for inspection. In 1902, it was bought by the Governor-General, and then it was also exhibited in the Museum of the Government-General of Taiwan at the 5th National Industrial Exhibition held in Osaka in 1903.

Yamanaka Kikori also mentioned that this map is labeled on the mounted scroll as “An Illustration of Taiwan’s Aboriginal Tribes” and “done by Huang Yupu in the 61st year of Kangxi (1722).” As a result, it was always thought that this map was painted in 1722 by Huang Yupu, who was also known as Huang Shujing, the author of Records of the Envoys to Taiwan. But Kikori Yamanaka indicated that there are two institutions on the map that predate the writing: one is the teaching site at the Tainan Haihui Temple, which was established in 1699 and the second is the Zhuluo County Office was moved to Zhuluo Mountain (present-day Chaiyi City), as a basis to infer that the map was drawn between 1699 and 1704, and not by Huang Shujing.

National Treasure Appreciation

The Antique Map of Taiwan During the Kang-xi Period is the earliest surviving map of Taiwan in the form of a long scroll, measuring 518cm in length and 63 to 64cm in width.

The text on the map is written in regular script; not only does it list the place names, but it also gives other relevant information such as the boundaries of places and the distance between each place, providing more details than gazetteers and maps that came later. Therefore, the map is one of the most useful historical materials for studying Taiwan in the early Qing dynasty.

This map is painted with color on a silk scroll in a realistic style. It depicts the mountains and rivers, areas of military deployment, and rural life in western Taiwan from north to south. The map uses a traditional perspective to depict the mountains and rivers in three layers: the distant view shows the mountains, the middle view shows the land, and the close view shows the rivers.

In addition, it also depicts the cultural customs of the Han Chinese people and indigenous people at that time, such as village houses, fields, ox carts, and boats. Indigenous people can also be seen on the map hunting deer and rabbits, and scenes of tribal houses, betelnut trees and other images all try to faithfully reflect the reality of Taiwanese life in the 17th century.

On closer inspection of the map, you can see there are two lines, one is a red solid line and the other is a black dotted line, and people or carts are drawn on the dotted line.

The red solid line is used to mark the defense line for the land army and the navy; it starts from the Tamsui River in the north and ends at the Donggang River in the south.

The black dotted line is the main north-south longitudinal road where people and ox carts traveled at that time; it starts from Balibenshe (now Bali, New Taipei City) in the north to Shamaqitou in the south (now Maobitou, Pingtung County).

This road was taken when Yu Yonghe visited Taiwan to collect sulfur n 1697, and he travelled north from Tainan to Tamsui on this route. But the idea of a longitudinal road did not just appear in the Qing dynasty, it existed as early as the Dutch period.

The northern part of the Antique Map of Taiwan During the Kangxi Period shows that the Qing dynasty had a very good understanding of the indigenous communities in western Taiwan at that time.

The map marks the names of the communities one by one and records the distance between each place. It also depicts indigenous activities with people chasing Formosan sika deer and hares with pointed guns, bows and arrows and hunting dogs.

Scenes of hunters carrying their game or farmers with their harvest are also illustrated. For the tribal people in the mountainous area, however, they were only mentioned by place names. For example, the Kavalan people in northern Taiwan were marked as “the 36 tribes in Kavalan.”

In the central part of the Antique Map of Taiwan During the Kangxi Period, there are buildings that represent military camps in Banxianshe (now Huabeili, Changhua City) and Chailishe (now Siwei and Sanguang Village, Douliu City, Yunlin County).

The installation of garrisons began in Taiwan during Koxinga’s reign in order to secure a food supply. In 1666, Zheng Jing ordered Liu Guoxuan to transfer to Banxian and establish a garrison and reclaim the land. Therefore, a city gate, barracks, and Han-style camps can also be seen on this map.

The village houses marked on the map are mostly places where the Han Chinese people rented land from the plains indigenous people for farming, and they built houses here for temporary residence.

On the Antique Map of Taiwan During the Kangxi Period, there is a prominent red defense line drawn on Penghu. The Qing dynasty set up a navy in Penghu with two battalions, which are on the left and the right.

The red line is the patrol route of the two battalions. The area between Wanbei Islet and Hua Islet is the left battalion’s patrol area, and the area between Jibei Islet and Xiyu Islet is the right battalion’s patrol area.

The Antique Map of Taiwan During the Kangxi Period shows the distribution of the tribes of the Siraya people, a major plains indigenous people. The tribes are: Backloan, Soulang, Sinkan, Mattau, Doroko, and Tefurang.

According to a record from 1684 in the Zhuluo County Gazetteer, the Zhuluo County Government and the Military Camp of Northern Taiwan were set up in Jialixing (present-day Jiali District, Tainan), and in 1704 the Zhuluo County Government was moved to Zhuluo Mountain (now Chiayi City).

The map also depicts the khun-sin, a word originally meaning “the back of a whale,” which later became a metaphor for sandbanks for its resemblance when viewed from a distance on the sea. The series of sandbanks were also called the haiweng line (line of whales), although they have now all silted up and become salt fields and urban settlements.

This part of the map shows the location of Taiwan Prefecture. The main street is called Shizi (Cross) Street, which divides the city into four squares: Dong’an, Xiding, Ningnan and Zhenbei.

On the map you can also see Dajingtou, which was an important port at that time. The numerous shops nearby shows a scene of prosperity.

On the map there is a huge castle standing on the street, with the words “Hongmaolou” (Red Hair Tower). According to the Taiwan Prefecture Gazette written by Gao Gongqian in the Kangxi period of the Qing dynasty, “The Chikan (Sakam) City is located on the northwest corner of the prefecture.

The surrounding area is 453 feet wide, and 36 feet high. There are no battlements, and although it is called a city, it is just a tower.” Therefore, it is marked on the map as “Hongmaolou.” During the Dutch colonization period it was called Fort Provintia, then Chengtian Prefecture under Koxinga’s reign, and now it is called Chikan Tower.

On part of the Taijiang Lagoon, you can see the installation of the Mazu Temple (now Luermen Tianhou Temple) and three artillery batteries, which shows the importance of coastal defense here. There are many ships traveling on the Taijiang Lagoon, but due to the problem of sedimentation along the coast, people can be seen using ox carts to transport goods between the ships and the land.

There are three navy battalions set up at Kunshenxun, named left, right and middle camp. The tower surrounded by the three battalions is Hongmaocheng (Red Hair City), also known as Fort Zeelandia in the Dutch period. According to the Taiwan Prefecture Gazette published during Emperor Kangxi’s reign in Qing Dynasty, the tower was built by Frederick Coyett,the Gouverneur van Formosa of Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie,VOC, and the wall was made with large bricks, tung oil and ashes. On the wall there are iron anchor plates, and the fort is composed of multiple layers of walls and buildings, therefore it is illustrated as a round castle on the map.

The red and green colors on the southern area of the Antique Map of Taiwan During the Kangxi Period have almost completely faded due to its age, and what can be seen are the labels on the mountains that read “there is no trace of any human” and “the kaleihuan indigenous people are in a cave behind this mountain”.

This also shows that the Qing dynasty did not have complete control of the entire territory of Taiwan, and that they specially marked the boundaries of where the indigenous people were. The lines indicating the territory of the kaleihuan indigenous people suggests the potential danger of passing by that area as well.

Edition Comparison

In addition to having the original  Antique Map of Taiwan During the Kangxi Period (hereinafter referred to as the original) in its collection, the National Taiwan Museum also has two long hanging scrolls similar to the original. These two paintings can show us what the damaged southern part of the original painting looked like. These two maps clearly show what Taiwan’s terrain looked like from north to south during the Kangxi period.

These two long hanging scrolls are called the Antique Map of Taiwan During the Kangxi Period facsimile (hereinafter referred to as the facsimile) and the Antique Map of Taiwan During the Kangxi Period manuscript (hereinafter referred to as the manuscript).

Due to the severe damage to the original, it is no longer possible to display it frequently to the public, so the facsimile is often displayed and published instead. Therefore, the Antique Map of Taiwan During the Kangxi Period that people think of is usually the facsimile, while the manuscript is kept in the library.

According to a list of exhibits in the Taiwan Governor Museum during the Japanese rule of Taiwan, scholars have speculated that a facsimile was made and used for display because the original copy was precious and fragile. However, the time when the manuscript was completed is still unknown, but it should have been done after the facsimile was made.

Although the facsimile and the manuscript are both based on the original, there are still some differences in the colors used , and there are even text omissions and differences between the images .

Comparison between the original and facsimile (southern part)

Comparison between the original and manuscript (southern part)

Different use of color


The outlines of the layers of the mountains and rocks are first drawn with an ink brush, and then a technique known as “hemp fiber texture stroke” is used to express the uneven appearance of the mountains and rocks.
An ink brush is used to draw the branches of the trees in the forest, and the leaves are drawn with raindrop texture strokes.
Malachite pigment is applied on the leaves to express the denseness of the forest. Regarding the use of colors, ochre is first used as the base color, then malachite is used on the surface facing the light of the mountain; the backlight surface is painted with turquoise. The application of different colors creates the effect of light and shade on the mountains.


The depiction of the mountains and woods in the facsimile is similar to the original, except for the coloring. Ochre is still used as the foundation color for the rocks, and the light area is painted with either a combination of light malachite with ochre, or just ochre; the dark side is painted with azure pigment, and the top of the mountain is garnished with malachite. The woods are filled with a combination of azure and ochre.


The mountains and forests in the manuscript are the same as those in the original and the facsimile, but the layers of forest, branches and leaves are comparatively blurred. They are rendered with dark green paint to express the depth and denseness of the forests.
In terms of coloring, the mountain rocks are painted with ochre. A darker malachite is applied with ochre to the light area; the dark side is rendered in azure, and the top of the mountain is embellished with white and turquoise.

Omitted words


The original is marked with “Bengangxun” and a paragraph of text next to it.


This text is omitted from the facsimile.


This text is omitted from the facsimile.

Different images


Most of the people depicted on the original are men, who have exposed upper bodies, and are only wearing a piece of azure cloth around their lower bodies.
The figures are engaged in various activities. Several people are holding bows, arrows and spears to capture deer and hares; some are carrying their prey to go home, and others are driving ox carts or herding cattle. This shows the daily life of people in Taiwan in the early Qing dynasty.


The figures drawn on the facsimile are different from the original. For example, there are four people hunting deer in the original, and their lower bodies are covered with blue cloth, the deer on the left is white, and the two other deer are brown with white spots.
The illustration of the jumping and sprinting deer vividly depict how they were startled by the hunters. On the facsimile, however, there are only three people painted in the scene and the colors of the cloth they use to cover their lower bodies are in crimson, azure and malachite. The position of the white deer is arranged in the middle. Compared to the original, the deer appears to lack strength.


The colors of the people on the manuscript are close to that of the original, and the strokes used to depict the animals are also strong and powerful. However, the white deer in the manuscript is not completely white like the original. If you look closely, you can see the fur of the deer is light brown with white spots added.


    1. Kangxi Map of Taiwan
    2. Yamanaka Kikori, “Huang Shujing’s Map of Taiwan During the Kangxi Period.”The Ethnographical Journal of the South-East Asia and Formosa, No.1: 3, 1931, pp. 29-36.
    3. Hung Ying-sheng, The Kangxi Map of Taiwan. Nantou: Executive Yuan for Culture, 1999.
    4. Kaim Ang,“Questions about the Kangxi Map of Taiwan,”pp. 134-156, in Li Tzu-Ning (editor), The 94th Annual Museum Collection Preservation Planning and Practice Symposium. Taipei: National Taiwan Museum, 2005.
    5. Kaim Ang,Weng Chia-Yin, Shih Wen-Cheng and Chen Chia-Hui, A Report on the Investigation of the History of the Kangxi Map of Taiwan. Taipei: National Taiwan Museum, 2007.
    6. Li Tzu-Ning (editor), The Story of Collection in a Century: Special Exhibition of National Taiwan Museum. Taipei: National Taiwan Museum, 2008.


The National Taiwan Museum (NTM) is the oldest museum in Taiwan, it was formerly known as the Taiwan Governor Museum, which was established in 1908. The artefacts on display were broadly divided into history, anthropology, “south China and south seas policy,” flora and fauna, and mineralogy. Before WWII, there were nearly 10,000 pieces in the museum’s collection; after Japan was defeated in WWII, the administration of the museum was transferred to the Republic of China, and was later renamed Taiwan Provincial Museum. In 1999, due to the Taiwan Provincial Government Restructuring, the management of the museum was transferred to the Ministry of Culture, and renamed NTM.

The NTM inherits the collection of the Taiwan Governor Museum during the Japanese rule, and has accumulated over 120,000 items, including historical materials, indigenous artefacts, flora and fauna, and geological specimens of Taiwan. These items provide a window for the public to learn more about the history of Taiwan. These items have also been digitized and can be seen at “National Taiwan Museum Digital Archive Information System.”

In addition to the rich collection of artefacts related to history, culture, flora and fauna located at the main site of the NTM, the Land Bank Exhibition Hall of the NTM(Natural History Branch) also has a paleontological exhibition, the Nanmen branch of NTM presents the glory days of Taiwan’s camphor industry, and the Railway Department Park at NTM presents the history of Taiwan’s railways and the trajectory of Taiwan’s modern development.

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