Wu Feng

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Courtesy name
Traditional Chinese 元輝
Simplified Chinese 元辉
Wu Feng's mausoleum, a designated landmark in Chiayi County

Wu Feng (simplified Chinese: 吴凤; traditional Chinese: 吳鳳; pinyin: Wúfèng; 1699, Pinghe County, Fujian-1769, Zhuluo County) was a Chinese merchant whose legend once popular in Taiwan.

Description[edit]

Wu Feng was a Han Chinese who befriended aborigines. According to the popular story about him, which was not recorded before 1855, he tried to persuade the A-li-shan tribe to give up their practice of headhunting, but his attempts were unsuccessful. On one occasion he declared that on the following day the aborigines would see a man in a red cloak. He told them they would cut off the man's head, but it would be the last head they ever took. The next day, the aborigines saw a man in a red cloak and decapitated him, only to find they had killed Wu Feng himself. Horrified, they gave up the practice of headhunting forever.[1]

In the early 19th century, before 1820, a small mausoleum was built for Wu Feng. It was rebuilt and expanded in the early 20th century. This mausoleum is now a cultural landmark.[2]

This story was in school history books during the Kuomintang dictatorship period. In the 1970s, it was the subject of a long form modern dance piece, containing echoes of The Rite of Spring, by Cloud Gate Dance Theatre[3]

Some said it purports to show an example of the Han Chinese having a "civilising" influence on the Taiwanese aborigines through heroic personal sacrifice. During the Kuomintang rule of Taiwan, Wu Feng was considered a minor national hero.[4]

In 1989, soon after the 1987 lifting of martial law in Taiwan and taking advantage of a new-found emphasis on human rights, aborigines who had long been offended by their perception of racism in the Wu Feng story protested against its continued presence in history books. As part of the protest, they demolished statues of Wu Feng "wherever they found them." [5]

The story has since been dropped from Taiwanese history books. The legend remains in oral tradition of some Han Chinese.

References[edit]

  1. ^ 劉家謀《海音詩》及其附文(咸豐五年,1855年)
  2. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, R.A.B. (1963). Vicissitudes of Shinto. Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society. p. 369. 
  3. ^ Yang, Meng-Yu (1998). Cloud Nine:Lin Hwai-Min and Cloud Gate Dance Theatre. Taipei: Tian xia yuan jian chu ban gu fen you xian gong si. p. 111. 
  4. ^ Shepherd, John R. (1993). Statecraft and Political Economy on the Taiwan Frontier, 1600-1800. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. p. 475 n.55.  Reprinted 1995, SMC Publishing, Taipei. ISBN 957-638-311-0
  5. ^ "Minority, Not Minor." Dignity, Respect & Freedom website:Government Information Office, Republic of China. Accessed 8/17/06

External links[edit]