Annotated Bibliography of 19th Century French Articles Concerning Taiwan (Formosa)

Compiled by Douglas Fix

Summaries by Amy Heneveld.


Imbault-Huart, M., translator. "Histoire de la conquête de Formose par les Chinois en 1683" [History of the conquest of Formosa by the Chinese in 1683].
Jomard, M. "Coup d'oeil sur l'ile Formose, a l'occasion d'une carte Chinoise de cette ile" [A glance at the island of Formosa, on the occasion of the arrival of a Chinese map of the island].
---. "Addition au Coup d'oeil sur l'ile de Formose" [Addendum to 'A glance at the island of Formosa'].
Klaproth, M. "Sur la Langue des indigènes de l'île de Formose" [On the language of the indigenous people from the island of Formosa].
---. "Description de Formose." [Description of Formosa].
---. "Description de l'ile de Formose, extraite de livres Chinois" [Description of the island of Formosa, extracted from Chinese texts].
Labadie-Lagrave, G. "Les Japonais à Formose." [The Japanese at Formosa].
Martin, Ern. "Les indigènes de Formose" [The indigenous people of Formosa].
Montmorand, Brenier de. "Sources thermales dans l'ile de Formose" [Thermal springs on the island of Formosa].
Plauchut, Edmond. "Formose et l'expédition Japonaise" [Formosa and the Japanese expedition].
Raoul, E. Les gages nécessaires: Yun-nan, estuaire du Yang-tse, Hainan, Formose. Première Partie, Formose [The necessary sacrifices: Yunan, estuary of the Yang-tse, Hainan, Formosa. Part 1, Formosa].
Rialle, Girard de. "Formose et ses habitants" [Formosa and its inhabitants].
Saint-Martin, Vivien de. "Aperçu général de l'ile Formose" [General views of the island of Formosa].
Thirion, Paul. L'Expédition de Formose [The expedition to Formosa].

Imbault-Huart, M., translator. "Histoire de la conquête de Formose par les Chinois en 1683" [History of the conquest of Formosa by the Chinese in 1683]. Translated from the Chinese and annotated. Bulletin de gèographie historique et descriptive 5 (1890): 123-156.

Summary by Amy Heneveld.

This article by Imbault-Huart is a translation of a work by Oueï Yuan [Wei Yuan?], a Chinese historian. Oueï Yuan's work covers the reign of emperor K'ang-hsi (1683), the rebellion of Tchou Y-Koueï [Zhu Yigui] (1722) and the revolution which took place in Formosa sixty years later (1788). Imbault-Huart's article is a translation of the first of these works. For more information on Oueï Yuan, the author cites the following articles:

Imbault-Huart. "Notice sur la vie et les oeuvres de Oueï Yuan." Journal Asiatique de Paris (Aug-Sept, 1881).

Jametel, M. Maurice. (A list of the table of contents of Cheng-vou-ki, or A History of the reigning dynasty's wars and a list of those parts which have been translated.) Revue de l'Extrême-Orient 1, iv, p. 572.

Imbault-Huart also notes in the introduction to his translation that because the translated text is often too dry, though historically accurate, he has added some anecdotes by Dutch travelers and other writers in the footnotes.

Below I have translated Imbault-Huart's summaries of the contents of each of the sections in Oueï Yuan's original text, and I have also listed the texts cited by Imbault-Huart in his translation and footnotes. Imbault-Huart's annotations are quite extensive. He highlights probable translation errors, and he often cites the original Chinese text and how he chose to translate it. Imbault-Huart is quite critical of previous generations of writers, historians and missionaries who made frequent mistakes in their translations, especially with Chinese names.

I. Brief summaries of the contents of Oueï Yuan's text:

A. Section I

Location of Formosa and it's general appearance. The ancient history of Formosa. The Japanese, established on the island of Formosa in 1621, are driven out by the Dutch. The pirate Tch'eng Tche-loung [Zheng Zhilong] goes into service with China and directs a flow of Chinese immigration to the island. Dutch occupation. Tch'eng Tch'eng-koung [Zheng Chenggong], son of Tch'eng Tche-loung, becomes the Koxinga of the Europeans. Tch'eng Tch'eng-koung's battles against the Tatars [Qing]. Beaten at Kiang-nan (1660), Tch'eng Tch'eng-koung dreams of conquering Formosa. He attacks the island in 1661; he lays siege on and captures Fort Zelandia; and the Dutch leave. Koxinga establishes a government on Formosa and employs his fellow Chinese to colonize it.

B. Section II

Death of Koxinga. His oldest son, Tch'eng King [Zheng Jing], succeeds him. Negotiations without success between Tch'eng King and the Qing leaders. Tch'eng King declares that he is next in line for the throne of the Ming. Beaten by the Tatars, he loses Amoy and Quemoy and takes refuge on Formosa. New talks take place without success. Prince Tsing-nan revolts. Tch'eng King re-enters Formosa's canal and attacks Prince Tsing-nan. This prince gives himself up to the Tatars and guides them against Tch'eng King (1677). The happy yet terrible success of the tartar army (1678-1679). Finally the [Qing] army takes the upper hand again and defeats Leou Kouo-chien, lieutenant of Tch'eng King.

C. Section III

The [Qing] court in Peking decides to attack Tch'eng King by sea and land. Yao K'i-cheng [Yao Qisheng] sows dissidence within the followers of Tch'eng King. Several of Tch'eng King's followers surrender. Hai-tcheng, Amoy and Quemoy are taken (1680). New talks with Tch'eng King and the letter of Beitse Laï-t'a to Tch'eng King. They gain no results. The sad state of the province of Fou-kien after the war. Death of Tch'eng King (1681). His son Tch'eng K'ô-tsang and details on his birth. Internal quarrels on Formosa: a plot against Tch'eng K'ô-tsang who dies by assassination.

D. Section IV

Yaô K'i-cheng and Li Kouang-ti report these developments to the emperor and ask to initiate the conquest of Formosa. The tatar fleet leaves Fou-kien in May 1683. It takes control of P'oung-hou (the Pescadores) and sails towards Formosa. Because of a very high tide, they are able to pass the [Luermen]. The last descendant of Koxinga and his lieutenants surrender.

The main part of this translation is followed by a genealogy of the Tcheng [Zheng] family (taken from T'aï-ouan ouaï-ki [Histoire extérieure de Formose]). Imbault-Huart also includes a summary of the disagreements among the authors he consulted on the dates of certain events in this history, such as the Koxinga's expedition and the departure of the Dutch.

II. Works cited by Imbault-Huart in his translation and notes:

A. Maps:

J. Van Braam and G. Onder de Linden. "Kaart van het Eyland Formaso en de Eylanden van Piscadores, 't verwaerloos de Formosa." Formosa négligée. Cf. Cordier, Bibliotheca sinica, col. 140.

He also mentions the Chinese map from the fifteenth century explored by Klaproth.

B. Texts:

Borts Voyagie, Naer de Kuste van China en Formosa. 1670. Ethnographie des peuples étrangers à la Chine. tome I, Peuples orientaux. Pp. 414 and following. [Note: Apparently this is a translation of Ma Touan-lin's work from the Fourteenth Century.]

Colquhoun, A.R., and J.H. Stewart-Lockhart. "A sketch of Formosa." The China Review 13 (1885): 161-207.

Cordier. Bibliotheca sinica [perhaps in mss. edition?].

Dickson, Walter. Japan, being a sketch of the history, government and officers of the Empire. 1869.

Dutch trade in Formosa in 1629.

de Faria E Sousa, Manuel. Asia Portuguesa. 1666-1674-1675.

Gützlaff, Charles G. (Translation of a work by Valentyn on Formosa.) Chinese Repository 6 (Apr 1838): 583-589.

Histoire générale de la Chine. Pp. 555-559.

Histoire générale des Voyages.

Hobson, H.E., Esq. "Fort Zelandia, and the Dutch occupation of Formosa." Journal of the North China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (1876): 33-40. Reprinted in Journal de la Société asiatique de Changhai. (Imbault-Huart notes that Hobson does not name the Chinese historian from whom he obtained his information.)

Hughes, G. "The Japanese and Chinese." China Review II.

Kleinwächter, M. Georg. "The history of Formosa under the Chinese government." China Review 12 (Jan/Feb 1884).

de Mailla, P. Annales des Ming.

de Mallia, P. Histoire de la Chine.

de Mallia, P. Lettre du P. de Mailla sur Formose.

Ogilby, John. Atlas Chinensis: Being a second part of a Relation . . . . London, 1671.

Ogilby. John. Atlas Japanensis.

Philipps, G. "The life of Koxinga." China Review 13 (Sept/Oct 1884).

Plumb, Rev. N. J. "A visit to the island of Haï-tan." Chinese Recorder 7 (n.d.): 204-207.

Ricci, Victorio. "Histoire de los PP." Dominicos 3.

von Siebold. Nippon.

Saint-Denys, Hervey de. "Sur Formose et les îles appelées en Chinois Lieou-Kieou" [On Formosa and the islands called Liu-ch'iu]. Journal Asiatique 4 (December 1874): 107-121.

Stevens, E. "Formosa, its situation, etc." Chinese Repository 2 (n.d.): 409ff.

Ummers, J.S. "The conquest of the island Tai-wan (Formosa) by the Chinese Kosenga or Coshinga, A.D. 1662 prom. the Nippon of von Siebold." Chin. a. Jap. Rep. (April 1864): 424-428.

Valentyn, Francois. Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën, etc. 1724.

Van Rechteeern, Seyger (Seyzer?). Journael. 1635.


Jomard, M. "Coup d'oeil sur l'ile Formose, a l'occasion d'une carte Chinoise de cette ile" [A glance at the island of Formosa, on the occasion of the arrival of a Chinese map of the island]. Apportée par M. de Montigny. Bulletin de la Société de Geographie (December 1858): 380-403. With map by L. Leon de Rosny, "Carte complète orographique et hydrographique de Formose traduite du Chinois." Facing p. 464.

Summary by Amy Heneveld.

The purpose of this article is to give an overview of the island of Formosa at a time when commercial and political relations with China are just beginning to open up for Europe. The island is not well known, and the Chinese only occupy a part of the island. The author wrote this article several years before publication and decided to publish it since his nation's ships might soon visit the island. Jomard is writing for the attention of geographers, as the title of the journal in which this article was published also indicates. It is not clear whether or not he visited the island, but the article is presented more as an analysis of sources (maps and texts) than as an account of a visit. The article is quite a hodgepodge of information without much structure. Descriptions of the island's geography, which are loaded with geographical terms, are proceeded by descriptions of the beauty of the island or the color of the inhabitants' skin. He often cites a General Gordon's personal account of a visit. In addition, Jomard frequently mixes in bits of Chinese myths about certain aspects of the mountains and geography. He speaks of the "legend of the Chinese map," which describes the mountains and volcanoes on the island; presumably he got this information from the original Chinese map. He also briefly mentions different periods in the island's history, also without any coherent order.

At first Jomard primarily compares the Chinese map at the end of the article with an English map. He describes a map made in 1847 by two English Maritime officers, Captain Collinson and Lieutenant Gordon. He describes the physical size of the island according to the map: Its length is about 205 geographic miles long and its width is about 70 geographic miles. In this way he can calculate the altitude of mountains on the island according to de Montigny's Chinese map. He goes on to describe the Chinese portions of the island. He describes a line of mountains east of this Chinese-inhabited region, in which the natives of the island live and where civilized men rarely venture. When describing the mountains, however, the author appears to quote himself -- though this too could be quoted from other sources -- describing what he saw on a voyage and what ports his ship found on the western and eastern sides of the island. Jomard also quotes Gordon's account of his visit into the interior of the island. In addition, he includes parts of Klaproth's account of the island from his Mémoires delatifs à l'Asie.

After describing the ports and mountains and their various Chinese names and locations, Jomard describes the various resources of the island. He lists in detail the various kinds of trees, flowers, plants and animals on the island. He also notes the types of soil and the location of mines. As for the inhabitants, he describes both the Chinese immigrants and the natives, making a strong distinction between the two. He notes how often revolts and executions happen on the island though the latter appear to have had little effect in subduing the populace. Also in this section, he quotes a historian of the Philippines, Father Aduarte, who wrote a treatise on Fermosa in 1693. He finishes the main body of the article with a quote from this priest regarding the history of attempts to colonize the island and a short description of a fable used by the Chinese to describe the Dutch on the island.

The conclusion of the article underlines once more how different the Chinese map is from European of Japanese maps. Nevertheless, it offers several useful points of comparison. In particular, Jomard mentions the legends included on the map, especially those that detail the weather and geographical formations. The conclusion also includes three appendices. The first is a list of all the place names on the map. The second is a list of Chinese geographical terms, and the third is a small French-Formosan vocabulary chart and a note on the "keng," a Chinese measure for distance on the sea, and its relation to other types of measurements.

[Note: The footnote at the bottom of the page states that this map (like all Chinese maps), brought back to Europe in 1854, is imperfect, but it does describes the interior of the island. The author describes the altitude of various mountains on Formosa according to the map, as well as the size of the reduction, at the end of his article.]


Jomard, M. "Addition au Coup d'oeil sur l'ile de Formose" [Addendum to 'A glance at the island of Formosa']. Bulletin de la Société de Geographie (1859): 15-21.

Summary by Amy Heneveld.

This addendum takes into consideration an article written slightly before the publication of Jomard's 1858 article, "Coup d'oel sur l'ile Formose, a l'occasion d'une carte Chinoise de cette ile" [A glance at the island of Formosa, on the occasion of the arrival of a Chinese map of the island]. Jomard thinks it is important to communicate the contents of this recent publication to readers of the Bulletin. The new publication in question was included in a volume entitled Notices du dépôt des cartes et plans de la marine (1859); the article is entitled "Renseignements hydrographiques sur les îles Formose et Lou-Tchou, la Corée, etc"; it was written by Captain Legras.

The first pages of this addendum deal with the island of Formosa; they describe how sailors in the seas of China or Japan might come to land on the island of Formosa. Jomard's addendum then goes on to list additional geographical facts provided by the new publication, which come from the observations of the English captains Collinson, Gordon, Brooker, and John Richard (1855), and those of George Preble (from the United States), Collingwood, and the captains of the "Plover" and the "Discovery."

The geographical information in this addendum includes lists of names for Formosa, the names and heights (in meters) of the mountains on the island, the names and locations of ports, as well as houses and markets near these ports, descriptions of rocks and landscapes, lists of the major commercial resources, as well as other information that might be helpful for seaman trying to land on the island. Captain Gordon is frequently quoted.

Finally, this notice includes a short description of the native people on the island (mostly from Captain Brooker). He distinguishes between those that are friendly with the Chinese -- supplying a physical description of this group -- and those that live in the mountains, whom even the other natives fear.


Klaproth, M. "Sur la Langue des indigènes de l'île de Formose" [On the language of the indigenous people from the island of Formosa]. Journal Asiatique 1 (1822): 193-202.

Summary by Amy Heneveld.

This article summarizes the ancient history of Formosa and then goes on to describe the geography of the island, ending with a lexicon of Formosan words and their English equivalents (and for some of the words Klaproth also includes corresponding terms in other Malaysian languages). This article begins with the refutation of a long held belief that the Chinese were unaware of the existence of Taiwan before 1430. Klaproth states that the Chinese have known about the island of Pheng-hou [the Pescadores] for a long time, and that Chinese came and went from this island quite often. The inhabitants of Formosa, however, had an aversion towards sea travel; they didn’t even fish in the ocean, being satisfied instead to fish from their rivers. Citing a Chinese source to document his claims, Klaproth explains that for this reason, the inhabitants of Formosa did not come to meet the Chinese at Pheng-hou. Likewise, the Chinese themselves were not eager to visit the west coast of Formosa, which was covered with reefs and rocks, though they knew about the island and its inhabitants. Klaproth cites several books as his source for this information: Thsu-kou-pou-thoung-tchoung-koue and Thay-thsing-y-thoung-tchy.

He next cites a book, the Chou-king, published by order of the current rulers in China, which states that in ancient times the island of Formosa was part of what the Chinese called the Houang-fou. Under the Han Dynasty, shortly before 1 AD, the island was included in the name Man-ty, or 'the country of barbarians from the meridian.' Under the Yuan dynasty (1278-1368), he explains that the Formosans were called Toung-fan, or 'eastern foreigners.' In a footnote Klaproth mentions that the Chinese character fan (character number 6219 in the Chinese dictionary printed in Paris) is the same one used to designate Tibetans, who are called Sy-fan, or 'western foreigners.' Under the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the island was called Kyloung, after the name of a port (cf. the Dutch Quelong) and a mountain on the island. The official Ming history (here he cites the Ming-szu, kiv. 323, page 16, verso) states that this same port used to be called Pekiang. Klaproth states that it is clear from these passages that the Chinese knew about the island, though they didn’t spend much time talking about them because the islanders did not send ambassadors to the emperor and because they were widely known to be savage. He says that their kingdom was one under the laws of the "Son of Heaven."

Klaproth then jumps to more modern times, explaining that the Chinese now have settlements on the island that total about half a million people. This area under Chinese control is called Thay-youan-fou and is administered by the province of Fou-kian. He gives a description of the inhabitants of the other parts of the island and states that they are continuously at war with the Chinese settlers. When the Dutch controlled the island in the 17th Century, Dutch missionaries converted a certain number of Formosan natives, and, thus, several religious books written in both Dutch and Formosan do exist. The most significant of these is called Formulier des Christendoms, met de verklaringen van dien, inde Sideis-formosaansche tale. Door Daniel Gravius. Amsterdam, 1662. It is primarily from this book that Klaproth made the lexicon included at the end of his article.


Klaproth, [M.J.] "Description de Formose." Nouvelles annales des voyages, de la geographie et de l'histoire 20, pp. 195-224.

Summary by Amy Heneveld.

This article is primarily a historical summary of the island and those who discovered it and landed there, beginning in 1430, when, according to received opinion, the Chinese discovered Formosa. Klaproth begins this article by saying that there is no evidence that the Chinese knew about Formosa before this date. He describes visits by the Japanese in the Middle Ages and later colonization by both the Japanese and the Dutch, who wanted to establish a trading post there because of the island's close proximity to China. In 1634 the Dutch convinced the Japanese to let them build a fort, the Zelandia, on Formosa. Eventually the Japanese pulled out and the Dutch were able to expand their posts on Formosa and in the Pheng-hou islands. A Chinese pirate by the name of Tcheng Tcheng-Koung, known to Europeans as Koxinga, later kicked out the Dutch in 1661. In 1683, the Dutch and the Chinese [under Qing rule] worked together to regain the island. They managed to take control of the northwestern part of the island, and the port was named Taï-ouan-fou. Klaproth lists the changes in the administrative divisions (and their names) of this part of the island up to the year 1723.

Klaproth then gives a detailed description of the land on the western side of the island that the Chinese had control over, protected from the natives of the island by a mountain range. This land is fertile; he describes the crops grown there. Klaproth lists the names of a wide range of plants native to or grown on the western plains and finishes by saying that the island lacks cotton and silk. He cites The Peking Court Gazette (May, 1819) for proof that sulfur is an important export of the island. He then lists the animals on island, both domesticated and wild. The biggest disadvantage is that there is no potable water on the island; with the exception of the capital, available water makes foreigners very sick.

After providing this inventory of fauna and flora, Klaproth describes the mountain range that extends throughout the island, specifying the names, in both Chinese and English, and appearances of each mountain peak, eighteen in all. He then describes the principal rivers and streams and gives the names and descriptions of seven of these. Klaproth then describes four of the lakes found on the island, describing again their appearance and their usefulness. Then he names the ports and bays, how deep they all are, whether a large ship could get through, the history of particular ports, and who controls them. Klaproth explains that commerce with China is now considerable in quantity. He describes the amount of time it takes to get to the various ports and what the sea is like. He also lists how long it takes to get from the Pheng-hou islands to Japan and Manila.

What follows then is a detailed description of the indigenous people on the island, including a summary of their interaction with the Chinese colonizers. He includes two charts: one lists the taxes given by those under Chinese control to the Qing government and the amounts of wheat [rice?] and gold [silver?] that the Chinese pay the governors of their island; the second list details the number of soldiers and ships stationed on the island. He goes on to review in detail the Chinese parts of the island, the size of the towns, the forts which are built there and their history. He describes four of these major towns (the first in most detail as it is the capital): Thay-ouan-fou/Thay-ouan-hian, Fung-chan-hian, Kia-y-hian and Tchang-houa-hian.

Klaproth describes the history of colonization on the island, explaining why the English did not invest time in gaining control of the island. He cites a proposal which a British company wrote hoping to convince England that the island would be a good asset. He finishes with a brief description of the Pescadores.


Klaproth, M.J. "Description de l'ile de Formose, extraite de livres Chinois" [Description of the island of Formosa, extracted from Chinese texts]. Pp. 321-74 in Vol 1 of Mémoires delatifs à l'Asie. Paris: Librairie Orientale de Dondey-Dupré Père et fils, 1826.

Summary by Amy Heneveld.

Unfortunately, this third article by Klaproth is merely a composite of his earlier publications. Not all of Klaproth's first and second articles is included herein; rather, bits of both articles have been mixed together. One major difference noted in this later publication is a change in the date (1820 instead of 1795) on the chart outlining how much the capital, Thai-ouan-hian, earns annually in gold [silver?] and wheat [rice?]; some of the other amounts in this chart are different as well. Lastly, the glossary of Formosan words at the end of this article is much more complete than the listing included with Klaproth's first article. This latest list includes numbers and phrases and is twenty pages in length, compared with a seven-page lexicon in the first article.


Labadie-Lagrave, G. "Les Japonais à Formose." A travers le monde aux pays inconnus 6 (1900): 334-335, 342-343.

Summary by Amy Heneveld.

This article is an account of Japan's failures in its occupation of Taiwan. The author has a very negative, almost sarcastic tone. He is of the opinion that though the Japanese have used some tactics to gain the sympathy of the Formosa, they have failed to turn the majority of the population over to their side. The author does not understand why the Japanese government is willing to sacrifice so much money and effort for an inhospitable island that has terrible rains (260 days a year) and where typhoid is endemic. The Japanese made the mistake of following the Germans in their military tactics and in their efforts to force the local population onto their side. The Japanese agreement with China stipulated that the wealthy Chinese inhabitants of the Island had two years to leave the island and never return. As a result, the wealthiest segment of the population left Formosa, selling their houses and land for terrible prices and leaving the local economy depressed.

The new government has attempted to transform all the schools into propaganda machines. Yet they have only able to enroll 1,400 students in the newly established schools while the Chinese schools continue to educate some 20,000 students; it will take a long time to change an educational system. Labadie-Lagrave believes that the material obstacles to the Japanese putting down roots on the Island are less problematic than the deficiencies and corruption of the Japanese functionaries hired to administer Formosa. In addition, the Japanese have been unable to find consistent leadership at the top, having gone through four governors in three years.

The Japanese have met with local resistance on the island, which instead of decreasing has only gotten worse since their occupation began. The author compares the Japanese method of convincing the local population to welcome them as protectors to colonial American attempts to deal with the native Americans. Even with many troops, the Japanese cannot convince the residents of the island to forget their former loyalties, except for a single group, the Pepohouans, who live in the eastern part of the island and who were never loyal to the Chinese anyway. The author lists two groups of people on the island who have not (and who believe that they have not) benefited by the presence of the Japanese: the Hakkas and the Chin-houans. The author insults the Japanese by saying that they were only able to ally themselves with natives who are savage enough to be very warlike and yet civilized enough to learn to use modern weapons quickly. The Japanese tried to copy the French who got some volunteer Vietnamese to join their army to help ensure the defense of their territories. However, the Japanese simply gathered together a sort of indigenous national guard who only work from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. For the first part of this story, the author cites Adolphe Fischer in Westermanns Monatshefte.

Overall, the author criticizes the way the Japanese are colonizing the island. This article seems to be more of an opinion piece than anything else, dotted here and there with some factual information. The author does not clarify the exact sources of his information.


Martin, Ern. "Les indigènes de Formose" [The indigenous people of Formosa]. Revue d'Ethnographie 1 (1882): 429-434.

Summary by Amy Heneveld.

This article is primarily a description of the indigenous peoples of Formosa, but it is also a response to other writings on the topic. Martin begins the article by mentioning other writers who have visited or written about the island. He includes a Dr. Guérin who lived there for two years and then died upon his return to Hong Kong. The author addresses the question of whether a black race can be found on the island, an assertion apparently made in Revue d'Ethnographie by a Mr. E.T. Hamy (i.e., Revue d'Ethnographie, tome I, p. 184). [Editor's note: see also Hamy, E.T., "Les négritos à Formose et dans l'archipel Japonais," Bulletins de la Sociâetâe d'anthropologie de Paris 7 (1872): 843-858.] Dr. Hamy presented a paper to the Society of Anthropology in 1872 stating that blacks lived on the island when it was part of a single continent that no longer exists, having long been broken up into several island groups. Hamy followed Valentyn (1726), Swinhoë (1866) and Schetelig (1869) on this assertion. The latter apparently suggested that between the 22nd and 23rd latitudes there existed a black race related to the indigenous people of the Adamans (?). In addition, the author mentions two articles from the China Review (vol. III, 1874-1875): one by T.L. Bullock (English consul at Takow) and the other by M.J.B. Steere (University of Michigan). The first deals with Formosan dialects and their relation to Malay, and the second article is entitled "The Aborigines of Formosa"(Les Aborigènes de Formose). Martin quickly summarizes Bullock's text, and the rest of the article appears to be Martin's summary of Steere's publication, as well as an article by James Hart. Martin does compare the views of Hart and Steere on the existence of cannibals on the island: Hart reported some tribes living on the coast while Steere denied their existence.

Martin describes two main groups of natives on the island, the Cheng-fan and the Shu-fan, or Pepo-fan. When summarizing Bullock's article, he describes a group called the Sek-fan and gives their physical traits. (Martin does mentions another writer, Wallace, who also described the Sek-fan.) Later in the article, he describes the physical attributes of the Cheng-fan and the Shu-fan, as well as their relationships with the Chinese, the areas in which they each live, and how they are governed. He describes the Cheng-fan in comparatively more detail, including a description of their houses, their marital and burial customs and their eating habits. He claims that they have no literature, no science, and no means of recording time. Most interestingly, he tells a story about the origin of the Cheng-fan's hatred of the Chinese. The Chinese wanted obtain gold, and the Cheng-fan were very hospitable but tricked the Chinese into believing there was no gold on the island. The Chinese found out about this deceit and took revenge by massacring and pillaging their hosts after putting them to sleep with food and drink. As a result, the Cheng-fan won't deal directly with the Chinese, and, thus, the Shu-fan always serve as intermediary in trade interactions between the Cheng-fan and the Chinese.

Martin ends the article by refuting two previous assertions: one by Montesquieu that the Formosan elders, when infirm and unable to fend for themselves, give themselves up to be sacrificed; and another by Helvetius, who said that naked priestesses climb on top of temples and beat themselves. Martin rejects the former by explaining that Novion (commissary of customs at Takow) researched this question and found no evidence that the practice currently exists. Martin then argues that the latter assertion is most likely not true since there are neither temples, nor priestess, nor even cults of any kind on the island. [Editor's note: There certainly were temples in Taiwan at the time of his writing.] Martin finishes the article by turning again to the question of a black race on the island, suggesting that those few blacks who may live there might have migrated to the island via some other means. He also refutes the claim of a two-degree latitude area inhabited by a black race. He found no mention of them in his research on the indigenous peoples of the island.


Montmorand, Brenier de. "Sources thermales dans l'ile de Formose" [Thermal springs on the island of Formosa]. Bulletin de la Société de Geographie (1865): 203-205.

Summary by Amy Heneveld.

This article is a very short account of some of the geothermal activity noted on the island of Formosa. The author records the temperatures of certain rivers and geothermal springs, how they smell, and what he thinks might be causing them. He also describes the general physical appearance of the island of Formosa. Montmorand describes certain spots [where sulphur springs exist] as a kind of "hell on earth," with craters of steaming water and gaseous vapors. He describes the rocks that surround these geothermal areas. Montmorand mentions being able to bathe in some of the pools, while others are too hot. He describes some of the plant life that grows well near these waters. He observes that temperatures on the northern side of the island are so warm that tropical fruits, such as bananas and pineapple, can be grown. He also notes the proximity that a fresh water spring can have to a thermal one. Montmorand then finishes with the conclusion that sulfates, not sulfurs, give these waters their mineral properties.


Plauchut, Edmond. "Formose et l'expédition Japonaise" [Formosa and the Japanese expedition]. Revue des Deux Mondes 16 (1874): 447-466.

Summary by Amy Heneveld.

This article is a summary and critique of Japan's decision to invade a part of Taiwan. It is divided into three parts. The first is an introduction that presents the recent Japanese invasion of southern Formosa and the questions the author will address in the article. The author states that he is writing both from documents that have recently arrived in Europe and from notes which he took during a ten-year stay in the vicinity of the island. The second section of the article summarizes the island's history, fauna and flora. He describes the various indigenous groups on the island and some of their customs. In this part of the article he tells a story about General Le Gendre, U.S. Consul to Amoy, who made a deal with the Boutans, who were often accused of killing shipwrecked survivors on the southern tip of Formosa; the leader to whom he talked was Tok-è-Tok. The author tells the entire story of the ensuing attempt by two Englishmen to get back some prisoners held by Tok-è-Tok, replete with descriptions of their cuisine, their hospitality, and their songs and dances.

In the third part of the article Plauchut explains the official reasons behind Japan's recent invasion (i.e., that several Japanese fishermen were killed on the southern coast by the indigenous people of the Formosa), and he speculates about other possible political reasons for the attack. Here he mentions Le Gendre, and he suggests that Le Gendre is partly responsible for the Japanese emperor's actions. He also explains that Japan was struggling from internal problems, and the emperor had to choose between a war overseas on Taiwan or a revolution from some of the Japanese clans (ken). This is then followed by a rather detailed description of the Japanese attack and the ensuing events (e.g., battles won and lost, the number wounded and killed, etc.).

Plauchut finishes the article with a discussion of the impact this expedition had on the Chinese. According to him, the Chinese authorities do not seem to be concerned as they consider Japan's attack to have been directed at the Boutans and not towards the Chinese part of the island. However, the author expresses some anxiety about what the outcome of a war between China and Japan might bring. He also mentions Japan's recent military involvement with Korea and wonders if Japan will take up arms there again.


Raoul, E. Les gages nécessaires: Yun-nan, estuaire du Yang-tse, Hainan, Formose. Première Partie, Formose [The necessary sacrifices: Yunan, estuary of the Yang-tse, Hainan, Formosa. Part 1, Formosa]. Paris: Challamel ainé, 1885.

Summary by Amy Heneveld.

This is a laudatory account of Formosa, based on a personal visit to the island. The author separates the information he has gathered, often given in list form, into the following chapters:

The introductory chapter is broken up into four sections: geographic location, history, administration, and ethnology and ethnography. This last topic is further divided into subsections on the following five groups of peoples: "negritos," savages, Pepohoans, Chinese and Hakkas. The author discusses all of the five groups in some detail, but the Pepohoans receive more attention than the other four. In that subsection, Raoul also deals with local cults (where he quotes Guérin and Bernard), divisions, and tribes. A list of these tribes, as well as their location on the island, is also provided.

The second chapter is called "Earth." In this chapter Raoul first describes the mountains, their heights and names, and the effects of deforestation. "Streams and Rivers" is the next section in the chapter, and Raoul provides specific names and details concerning river and stream networks. In this chapter, he also describes the roads on the island. The following section is entitled "Climate, Meteorology, Livability" and includes very detailed information on temperature and rainfall; charts are used to organize this data. He also discusses prevalent diseases and their relative severity. "Productions of the Island" describes the mines on the island, which include exploitation of the following minerals: coal (where he quotes Alfred Houette and compares Kelung coal to Welsh coal) sulfur, copper, iron, gold, slate, magnesium and mineral waters.

Chapter three is entitled "Flora" and consists of an extensive list of the plants which are grown on the island and their uses.

The next chapter is called "Fauna" and gives a similar list of the animals and fish found on the island, including a table that provides some of the indigenous names. In this chapter Raoul also includes information on the island's commerce, tables of the profits made from importing certain goods, and statistics describing taxes on exported and imported goods. There is also a section that lists the towns and ports on the island, including a map of the port of Tamsui. The author gives interesting information on population size, defenses, livability and location; he references Dr. Myers and John Richard.

Raoul ends the book by mentioning that he had intended to include a linguistic study of languages spoken by aborigines on the island, but since he was called back to Formosa, he was unable to finish it. His final few paragraphs describe how beautiful the island is and how profitable it would be if a European country managed to colonize it. He does reiterate that the northern, most humid part of the island is not particularly suitable for European inhabitancy, but he ends with the conclusion that, once colonized, the Europeans could stay in the healthy part of the island, and Asians could live and work in the northern part.


Rialle, Girard de. "Formose et ses habitants" [Formosa and its inhabitants]. Revue d'Anthropologie 14 (1885): 58-78, 247-81.

Summary by Amy Heneveld.

This article is a summary of the published scholarship concerning the people of Formosa. For the most part, Rialle quotes English texts, but he also references some German and French sources. He did not visit the island himself and, therefore, does not add any personal observations.

Rialle begins the article with a discussion of the location of Formose. In this section, he includes many details, such as longitude and latitude measurements, heights of mountains and population figures. When discussing those races present on the island, the author also summarizes several studies of human skull size. Most of his anecdotes have been cited by others. However, he does include some details about Tok-e-Tok, the chief of several southern tribes, and the Japanese invasion of 1874 that have not been cited in other French texts from the period. Throughout the article, he include some historical information and notes similarities among the Formosan natives and the Malay, Dayak, and other aboriginal groups in the region. In particular, he devotes considerable space to descriptions of clothing and hair styles. He ends the article with a discussion of the origins of the Formosan aborigines, including some speculation on how they might have migrated to the island.

A list of Rialle's sources is given below, including the texts he mentions in passing. [Editor's note: For accurate and complete bibliographical information, please see "19th-Century European & North American Encounters with Taiwan: A Selective Bibliography," compiled by Douglas Fix, which is also included on this web site.]

Allen. "Journey accross Formosa from Tam-sui to Taï-wan-fu." Geographical Magazine (May 1877).

Baudens. Revue maritime et coloniale (1874). [This is a summary of a report by M. Le Gendre, dated 1871.]

Beazeley. "Notes of an overland journey through the southern part of Formosa in 1875." Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography n.s. 7 (January 1885): 1-22.

Bienatzki article in Zeitshrift der Gesellschaft für Allgemeine Erdkunde zu Berlin II (1859).

Bullock, T.L. "Formosan dialects and their connection with the Malay." Chinese Review III (1875).

Collingwood. "Visit to the Kibalan village of Sauo Bay." Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London VI (1868).

Corner, Arthur. "A Tour through Formosa." Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society XXII (1878).

Dodd, John. "A few ideas on the probable origin of the hill tribes of Formosa." Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (Singapore) (1882).

Dordrecht and Amsterdam, 1724.

Eitel. China Review II (1873).

Gabelentz article in Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft XIII (1859).

Guerin and Bernard. "Les Aborigènes de l'île de Formose." Bulletin de la Société de Géographie de Paris 5th series, XV (1868).

Guerin and Bernard article in Bulletin de la Société de Géographie de Paris 5th series, XVI (1868).

Gravius. [The gospels Mathew and John translated into Formosan]. Amsterdam, 1661.

Hamy. "Les négritos à Formose et dans l'archipel Japonais." Bulletins de la Sociâetâe d'anthropologie de Paris 2nd series, VII (1872).

Happart. [A Formosan lexicon]. 1650.

Hughes, T. F. "A Visit to Tok-e-tok." Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London XVI (1872).

Ibis, Paul. "Promenade ethnographiques à Formose." Globus XXXI (1877).

Junius, Robert. [A catechisme published in Formosan]. Delft, 1645.

Le Monnier, Franz von. [Map of Formosa]. Deutsche Rundschau für Geographie und Statistik (Vienne) VII (December 1884).

Mailla, P. Lettres édifiantes. 2eme édition. Vol. II. Paris, 1824.

Malte-Brun. Annales des voyages. VIII (1809): 344-375.

Medhurst, W. [Happart's lexicon translated and published in English]. Batavia, 1840.

Quatrefages and Hamy. Crania ethnica.

Ravenstein article in Geographical Magazine (Oct. 1874).

Rechteren. Voyages de la Compagnie des Indes orientales. Vol. V.

Saint-Denis, Hervey de article in Journal asiatique 7eme série, IV (1874).

Saint-Martin, Vivien de. Dictonnaire géographique.

Schetelig, Arnold. "Sprachen der Ureinwohner Formosa's." Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft (Berlin) V (1868).

Schetelig, Arnold. "On the natives of Formosa." Transactions of the Ehtnological Society of London n.s. VII (1869).

Steere article in China Review III (1875).

Swinhoe, R. "Narrative of a visit to the island of Formosa in 1858." Journal of the North-China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (Shanghai) I (May 1859).

Swinhoe, R. "Notes on the aborigines of Formosa." British Association for the Advancement of Science (1865).

Swinhoe, R. "Additional notes on Formosa." Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London X (1866).

Taintor. "The aborigines of northern Formosa." Journal of the North-China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society n.s. IX (1875).

Thomson. "Notes of a journey in southern Formosa (1871)." Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London (1873).

Thomson, J. "Voyage en Chine." Tour du Monde XXX (1875).

Valentyn, Francois.

Wallace. Island life (1880).

Zaborowski article in Bulletin de la Société d'Anthropologie de Paris IIIeme série, II (1879).


Saint-Martin, Vivien de. "Aperçu général de l'ile Formose" [General views of the island of Formosa]. Bulletin de la Société de géographie Tome Quinzième (1868): 525-541.

Summary by Amy Heneveld.

This is a general overview of the island of Formosa. Saint-Martin describes the island's location, mountains and volcanoes, and ports and towns. He also describes the various peoples on the island and their history. He quotes several sources that describe the coast and the people: Captain Broughton from the "Voyage of discovery," Captain Brooker from the Annales hydro. XV (1858) and the Nautical magazine (Nov. 1858). On the subject of the aborigines, he mentions many articles that are often cited by other scholars, such as P. de Mailla, Klaproth, and Guérin. However, there were also a few new sources cited in this article:

Marsden, W. Miscellaneous Works. in-no. 4. (1834).

Gabelentz. "Sur la langue de Formose" [in German]. Journ de la Soc. or. D'Allemagne XIII (1859): 59-102.

Grosier. Descriptions de la Chine. in-no. 4. (1785).

Happaert. "Sur la langue de Formose." Mém. de la Soc. de Batavia XVIII (1842).

Hartman, M. E. Indigenous races of the Earth.

Saint-Martin also quotes a recent missionary to the island, P. Aguilar.

None of his information seems very extraordinary, and it's apparent that he didn't visit the island. He does describe current foreign expeditions to the island and the history of exploration there. This article seems more like a starting point for further study or a travel guide for Saint-Martin's contemporary who might have been contemplating a visit; it's not an especially informative or educational document. In fact, a note at the bottom of the first page states that this article is taken from a geographic dictionary which the author is preparing; it reads rather like an encyclopedia entry.

At the end of the article, the author includes a three-page bibliography, but not all works cited in the article are included in this bibliography. It looks like a very good set of references, though. In this final bibliography of further readings, Saint-Martin includes notations concerning whether or not maps are present in a bibliographic references. At the very end, he also provides a list of maps of Formosa and their publishers.


Thirion, Paul. L'Expédition de Formose [The expedition to Formosa]. Paris: Henri Charles-Lavauzelle, [1898]. With map.

Summary by Amy Heneveld.

This ninety-page booklet is a first person account of the French expedition to Formosa in 1884-85. The author, Paul Thirion, is a retired navy soldier who participated in the invasion -- living in deplorable conditions and experiencing terrible weather for three months, or so he says. The account closely follows the movements of his troops, providing details on the living conditions of the soldiers throughout. There is some commentary on the Chinese who live on the island but mostly with direct reference to the war being fought, not as ethnographic reporting. The text is unusual, however, since it starts with a very patriotic view of France's imperialism at the time, highlighting the pride of being a soldier and fighting overseas. Yet it also contains some remarks on the perplexing nature of the French mission, on the humanity of the Chinese, and even some criticism of the usefulness of the expedition and the way in which it was managed. The inhumanity of the war, especially in relation to the soldiers who are dying of cholera (without the necessary medicine and even without shoes) is also expressed.

The author includes many details of the war, such as the types of guns and canons used, the various military strategies employed, the tactics of the enemy and the various conquests and losses of each fort or piece of land. He mentions the inability to get food or buy European goods and their exorbitant prices when they are available. Thirion includes the times they moved, where they moved, and the weather and troops they encountered. He tells several stories which appeared to have been most vivid to him. One described the execution of a Chinese man with small delicate hands, who refused to work for the army and who chose to die instead. The other recorded the accidental shooting of a young Chinese girl, who was first brought to military medics and then returned to her village. Thirion does not hesitate to point out when his troops or his army was brave, yet he also does not flinch at telling readers about the errors of the war.

Though there is much detail in the article, this report of the French expedition lacks an awareness of the bigger issues behind the fighting. Rather, Thirion describes the expedition as a patriotic mission to spread the French flag, though he elaborates upon many specifics of the fighting and his experiences on Formosa. The reader does not gain a full understanding of the occupation, for example, or its importance to the French government. When, at the end, talks are held with the Chinese, there is no explanation in this booklet of what was agreed upon by the two sides.

The booklet begins out with an anecdote about admiral Courbet: how his very name affects soldiers and fills everyone with patriotism. And the text ends with this same admiral's death and the sadness all those on the island feel when they hear of it. Thirion dedicates this book to his lieutenant, Berteaux-Levillain, who led the attack and whose official reports are also included here and there in the publication. The entire occupation takes place around the city of Kelung, and Thirion includes a detailed map of the area which he is describing.

At the end of the book are two appendices relating to Garnot's version of these same events from the book entitled L'expédition française à Formose. The appendices are extracts from the journal Les Tablettes des Deux-Charentes, specifically from the issues for September and November 1894. They elaborate upon the inaccuracy of Garnot's book, since he was not on the island at the time and only used commander Duchesne's and Courbet's accounts as his sources, having left in January of 1885 before the terrible rainy season and when the bulk of the fighting took place. He did not witness the horrible conditions the soldiers lived in during this time nor the important role that Thirion's commander played in this part of the war. The appendices, along with the text itself, including the dedication mentioned above, go a long way to prove the important role that Bertaux-Levillain played, and they appear to serve as a tribute to him. The text in this sense is a response to Garnot's version and wishes to establish a true account of the events. In certain places in the text as well, the author notes that he is establishing things as they really happened, in response to some misconceived version of events.