When I chatted with my friend who immigrated to Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States, he said he liked the Taiwanese. I asked him why. He said that the Taiwanese have no “party culture,” and they retain good interpersonal relationships. Compared with people from Mainland China, people from Taiwan are kinder and more traditional in their thoughts.
For someone like me who was born in the 1970s, I was a little surprised. I thought that China was the place that had all the Chinese culture. I could not believe that he would say Taiwan possesses the heritage of Chinese culture. Later, I pondered what he said and I have to admit that he made a good point.
When I was young and in school, we read a lot of classical Chinese literature, such as Classical View Only and Basic Textbook of Chinese Culture. By reading these books, Chinese people would learn how to behave like a human being, how to study, how to be a scholar, and how to be a gentleman or a lady.
What are Chinese moral trainings, teachings, ethics, and ritual culture? Paragraph by paragraph, it all registered in your heart. With a foundation like that, even after 20 years, you would lament the moral decline of current times.
People from Taiwan know the meanings of “propriety, justice, honesty, and shame.” What is good and what is bad are clearly defined in their minds.
In many large Taiwanese cities, the names of streets, roads, and even local townships reflect their concepts of traditional Chinese culture, such as Loyalty Road, Compassion Street, Trust Avenue, and Peace Boulevard.
The morality of Chinese people manifests on this piece of land, and it so closely connects with people’s lives. For example, the most popular area of Eastern Taipei is on the Loyalty and Filial Piety Road.
The historical significance of 10,000 Han cultural relics in Taiwan
The links between Taiwan and the Chinese culture had begun as early as in the Song and Ming dynasties, when the ancestors crossed the ocean and came to Taiwan. Mr Li Jikun, founder of the Museum of Taiwan History Preparatory Office, spent his entire youth collecting more than 10,000 historical relics of the Han ethnic background.
He believes that Taiwan is quite an important place to preserve the Han heritage. Because Mainland China had experienced 300 years of Manchurian rule, plus the Chinese Communist Cultural Revolution, it left them with only the cultural relics of the imperial mausoleum.
The Han ethnic artifacts of the common people have almost disappeared. Fortunately, this resilient Han culture had crossed the ocean to the land of Formosa as early as the Song and Ming dynasties, and survived well there.
A sewing box of black ink with gold threads in the museum represents the ancient Chinese women’s “four virtues” (four essential accomplishments). In ancient times, tailoring and embroidery were part of a woman’s skills. Being a good dressmaker was a demonstration of one’s character.
“Hakka Disciplines” is an artifact from the 18th century, but it can be traced back to 2000 years ago. It conveys the love and advice of ancestors to descendants. It consists of two bundles of curved bamboo — 50 per bundle tied with rattan.
One bundle bends outwardly and one bundle inwardly, symbolising a united front for both the internal and external. Traditional Chinese wisdom is indeed admirable. Mr Li Jikun said:
“The Han cultural relics in Taiwan are a part of the lives of our ancestors, imbued with reverence to divine beings and deep connotations of traditional Chinese culture. Unfortunately, these cultural relics no longer exist in Mainland China.
“For decades, Taiwan has played the part of reviving the traditional Chinese culture. Let’s accept the mission entrusted by history and let the splendid Chinese culture shine.”