magicaltaiwan

Exploring the Miracles of Neiwan

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Comic Artist Liu Hsing-ching

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Background

Born in 1934 to a farming family in a Hakka village in Hsichu country, Liu found his inspiration for drawing cartoons after witnessing a flyer dropped by a US bomber world war II and decided that cartoons could better than words, portray the meaning of events and daily livelihood of people and wildlife.

In the 1950s, primary school students in Hong Kong were infatuated with comics and there was a craze for comics on the supernatural powers. Many of these students skipped school to visit the comic stands and would even run away to the nearby mountains in seek of these supernatural powers. This cost the lives of many students who lost their way.

Seeing this, Liu grabbed the opportunity to create a comic book entitled “Fairy Tales” which relates a story about a boy so infatuated with comic books and their tales of supernatural powers that he decides to go into the mountains in seek of them. He ended up having to suffer much hardship and was finally found by his family. This book was very well received and he became famous overnight. Many parents bought the book for their children to read so as to remind them the dangers of being bewitched by fantasies. Building on to this success, Liu’s subsequent cartoons had a more educational aspect to them as they taught about filial piety and compassion. He created the much famed comic characters Big Auntie a clumsy spinster, who represents her mother, and Brother A-san, a country bumpkin, taking after himself. Most of his characters and comic tales were inspired by villagers from his hometown.

Liu did not perform well in school but was a natural genius and problem solver. He came up with simple solutions to everyday problems and had invented more than 300 devices and patented more than 138 of them in Taiwan the US.

Liu Hsing-ching and Neiwan

After his retirement in Florida in 1993, Liu’s comic helped to revive Neiwan, a mining village near his howntown. Liu licensed the village to use his comic characters for free. As a result, life size statues and street signs of Big Auntie & Brother A-san turned Neiwan into a comic strip village attracting droves of tourists in recent years. Liu also licensed several restaurants and street stalls to use Big Auntie and Brother A-san  as their brand name and operators had to show that they are constantly providing quality product and service in order to renew this license.

A Comic and invention museum in Neiwan showcases Liu’s work and is a must-visit tourist attraction of the village. Life size comic characters in attractive-looking huts make a great place to snap beautiful photos. You can see many comic characters scribbled on the wooden walls of the museum and even in their toilets. (People in his time could not afford Pencils and paper and he had to draw on walls with charcoal instead). Below are some photos of this museum.

 

 

 

Written by clarine chai

June 16, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Posted in History, Neiwan, People

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Hengshan Caifeng Guan (Hakka Museum)

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This museum is opened by the same boss of the cinema theatre and all the collections inside belongs to him. Amazing!! Why? Because the boss looks really young like in his late 30s. Well to be fair, the stuff inside are not as old as in the prehistoric times. It’s the stuff which you grandparents might still have. Still it is a great place to see what your grandparents used in the past especially for Singaporeans in our pigeon-hole high rise flats, our grandparents might have already dumped most of them in favour for modern goods. Take for example my professor in his 50s. He has an iphone which I don’t have!

 

Kettles, pots and pans which you can still find in traditional Chinese restaurants today.

 Matchboxes from the past. The shape is similar to the ones we have now just that he design on it is much more colourful and cartoon-like? think of bugs bunny cartoon. get the idea?

 Rattan baskets which people bring to the wet markets to keep groceries and bring practically everywhere else as handbags. I like them. I see a lot of them in the hong kong dramas I watch.

Cookies and biscuit tins from the past. I think biscuits brands such as Hup Seng with a longer history and which cater to the older population still use metal tins now. But its interesting to see many of the different tin packagings which have phased out by now.

Bedroom and clothes of Chinese from traditional families. Red is frequently used because it’s an auspicious colour for the Chinese. The flower print you see on the bed, I think it’s only unique to the hakka culture. I see similar flower prints on curtains, cushions and tote bags all over Neiwan

Pull carts and makeshift stalls from the past. I think I still see these in Singapore hawker centres which want to create a more traditional and oriental ambience for their customers. An example is the Food republic in Vivo City.  The picture on the left somehow makes me think of dim sum and har gaw ahah

Records from the past is huge and the picture on the right shows the layout of a typical shop in the old days. Look at the abacus and posters on the wall.

This museum also showcases the history of taiwan and the hakka community. it details the events which occurred during world war II and has real photograhs from the past as evidence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by clarine chai

June 16, 2011 at 11:05 am

Introduction to Neiwan

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Hakka of the Han Chinese family originally from the northern provinces of Henan and Shanxi in China, came to Taiwan in the 17th century settling in the northern mountainous areas of Taiwan – Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli & Kaoshiung-pingdong areas.

Neiwan is part of the Hengshan Township in Hsinchu. It is accessible by the Neiwan Branch Railway line – a smaller branch line operated by the Taiwan Railway administration which runs up the valley from Zhutong to Neiwan.  Neiwan is well-known for its wild ginger flower and it is used in many of its delicacies. Cherry trees are in full bloom during January and February and Tong flowers, also known as “Snow of May” (五月雪) bloom in late spring.

Neiwan is also the birthplace of the famous cartoonist Liu Hsing-chin who is well-known for his creation of Auntie (大嬸婆) and Third Uncle (阿三哥) comic characters. These cartoon characters can be seen all around Neiwan on posters and shop signs.

Written by clarine chai

June 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Posted in History, Neiwan

Tagged with ,