Swinhoe, Robert. "Additional notes on Formosa." Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London 10 (1866): 122-128.

Additional Notes on Formosa.

By R. Swinhoe, Esq., F.R.G.S., H.B.M. Consul, Formosa.

[P. 122] Mr. Swinhoe has sent us the following notes of various excursions he has made in the island of Formosa, as supplement to his Paper published in the Journal, vol. xxxiv. p. 6:&emdash;

"1. North-East Formosa.&emdash;At the end of May I again visited Sawo Bay by sea. On the way we looked into Kelung: the cave there was explored with lanterns. Soon after passing the high arched entrance it divides into galleries, which consist for the most part simply of fissures in the rocks. The longest gallery was explored to its end, its length being somewhat over 500 yards. The passage is in many parts very narrow, and in others very low. Towards the end, from the overhanging limestone rock, a few stalactites of various length depended, and a few stalagmites were supported by the floor. A few fragments of marine shells of modern species lay about. Two small leaf-nosed bats were captured: these and one larger species were all that were seen. A viper, dotted all over with the oval white spots, was the other animal seen inside: it opposed the entrance of the party, and was fortunately killed before it could inflict any mischief. The exploration satisfactorily settled the fable of the subterranean connection between this cave and the one at Tamsuy.

"We walked over the greater part of the small island, in the harbour called Palm Island, so called on account of the small palms (Phoenix sp.) that grow on conspicuous parts of its hilly surface. The remains of the Spanish fort are still to be seen in the inner corner of this island. A long low wall in ruins and covered with vegetation encloses about three acres of land, and in a corner facing the inner harbour, on raised ground, stand the remains of the cavalier. The space within the walls is cultivated. On the highest hill of the same island there are left only a few stones of what was once a small fort commanding the entrance and to seaward. Bush Island, a little to seaward of Palm Island, presents a flat surface of sandstone, but into squares in chessboard pattern, the lines being in places well furrowed and looking like the rails of a railway, and the square patches of sandstone being marked with wavy lines, showing the play of water on their faces. This sandstone makes excellent holystone for the decks of ships, and lies in horizontal layers of from half a foot in thickness: the furrows are caused by the wearing away of the softer stone, which occurs in vertical strata at intervals between the horizontal strata of the harder kind, thus cutting them up into polyhedrous patches. The flat portion of the island is nearly covered at high water, showing only some large blocks of dead raised coral and two mounds covered with bushes, whence the name Bush [p. 123] Island. In the pools left by the receding tide Chinese fishermen were catching with hand-nets the small bright and many-coloured corral-fish, associated with mullet and other China coast-fish. Several species of corals occur at a depth of 8 feet or so about this island. I got a Chinaman to dive for them: he went down head foremost, and with his two hands loosening the coral, raised it to the surface. I thus succeeded in making a fair collection, which I have since forwarded to the British Museum. In one large village on Palm Island several Chinese were married to Pepo women, or women of subdued aboriginal tribes. These women in appearance were very similar to those at Sawo.

"In steaming round to Sawo Bay we approached Steep Island, with a view of landing on it. The steamer went pretty close to the sandspit which runs out into a point westward from the island, but, finding no bottom, backed out again and continued her course. We entered Sawo Bay and made for the Lamhongo anchorage (the south inner bay), after all but running on to a huge hidden rock outside of the breakwater-reef. This rock is not marked down in the last Admiralty Chart, though it has only 3 feet water on it at half-tide. The southern harbour is full of coral-reefs and hidden dangers, and we were glad to make the best of our way out of it, anchoring finally outside the barrier-reef in deep water. Numbers of the Pepos, mostly women, came on board and begged and swam for empty bottles, which they called brasko. A similar word is used in Japan for bottles, and is probably derived from the Russian flask or (Dutch fleschen, English flask). Some of these natives were nearly pure-blood with proper eyes, but others were more or less Chinese. They all conversed in the native language, though most of the males had their heads shaved, with tail appendage, and looked very Chinese-like. Since I was last here, in 1857, the village had increased in size, and a Chinese schoolmaster now resided there to teach the little foreign urchins the blank philosophy of Confucius. This man receives a small monthly stipend from the Chinese Government. As yet very little Chinese is spoken by them. Some of the older men still kept their long hair, and a few shaved just the forehead and tied up the long loose locks at the back. Their small and filthy huts were built within a stockade, with a crow-loft to watch against thieves. In a fresh-water pond near at hand the people bathe every evening, all naked together: their houses contained no bedsteads, chairs, or tables. A few boards laid on the mud floor supplied them with a bed, and their firewood and other worldly goods were piled away in the corners of the single room. These people farm scarcely at all; indeed here they have little ground for that purpose. Fishing is their chief occupation and source of substinence. Just before dusk their boats chase one another out of the harbour, and during night, by the aid of bright torchlights, they take flying-fish along the coast. The spare fish they split and salt for sale and home consumption. They were evaporating salt from sea-water on the beach for curing their extremity for food. They are obliged then to go out, all hands of either sex, old and young, shooting small birds. In the early spring they take large numbers of turtles (Chelonia squamata), which they dry for use. They appear merry and happy, and exercised all their arts of persuasion to win pipes, tobacco, and bottles from us.

"We next visited the larger Chinese village of Sawo, at the head of the bay. We landed to the left of the small river which here falls into the sea after meandering past Sawo village. It is merely a torrent from the neighbouring mountains. Up its barred mouth boats are drawn into shallow water. The boats used at Sawo and Kelung, as also at Tamsuy, are chiefly after the model of the Amoy sampan, the passenger sitting on a thwart towards the head of the boat with his back turned to the rower, who stands behind and pushes at an oar on either side, one in each hand. There is at Sawo also a species of canoe beaked fore and aft, which is mostly used by the Pepos, and is doubtless [p. 124] of the form employed by their wild ancestors. It was somewhat after the idea of a Malay proa. The word for boat, at Sawo, is burroah=Malay proa. The small coasting junks are here, as in most parts of Formosa, especially adapted for contending with the surf, having high bulwarks and a high rounded head. We forded the shallow sandy-bottomed river, and traced its banks to the village, no great distance off, at the foot of hills thickly covered with long grass and copse. The village was long and straggling, with a fair show of comfort. Many of the houses were built of brick; and there was one long, respectable street of shops, containing ordinary Chinese commodities. A ditch ran round the back part of the village, and there were several bamboo crow-lofts about, to mount guard at night to give notice of the approach of prowling savages from the adjoining hills. The land in the neighbourhood was cultivated with rice, and several groups of buffaloes were observed both in the village and in the fields. The herdsmen that tended the cattle went out in small parties armed with spears. They told us that some savages had been lurking about for some days, and had killed five Chinese. One savage was secured and taken to the Mandarins at the district town, Komalan Ting. The Mandarins used to pay twelve taels (4l.) a head for savages, but they had since reduced the head-money to four taels (1l. 6s. 8d.). There was a female belonging to a savage tribe, having the tattooed face of a married woman, in a shop. She was captured in an affray, and seemed to be content with her present home. She had a small and well-formed aquiline nose, and keen horizontal eyes, but was in complexion rather darker than usual. Dressed, except about her head, like a China-woman, she was now the second wife of the Chinese shopman. She was shy, and tried to avoid observation. The savages lift cattle when they get the opportunity. A path-road leads from this village to Kelung.

"2. South-West Formosa.&emdash;Having had occasion to visit the Pescadores, in Her Majesty's gunboat Bustard, Lieutenant Tucker, to make enquiries about the supposed wreck of the Netherby, we continued our voyage to Takow, and thence down the south-west coast. This was in July, 1864, before I had removed from Tamsuy to establish the consulate at Takow, near Taiwan. We first steamed down to the South Cape, where we found the supposed harbour to be quite a myth. But more of the Cape hereafter; I prefer taking the places visited in sequence, according to position.

"We touched at Hongkong, between Lungkeaou and Ping-le. There is here a large Chinese village of Changchow men, who have few boats, and fish little. The hills all round them are densely wooded; but they have a valley among the hills, which they are permitted to cultivate by the savages on the payment of a tribute of one bag of rice out of every forty-five.

"We anchored in Lungkeaou Bay, and pulled to the central village, called Lungkeaou, which is somewhat removed from the beach. The village is walled, and I suppose contains about 1000 Chinese. It has a ditch round it, with plank-bridges crossing to the two gates. On the north side of the bay are two or three hamlets; these the Lungkeaou villagers warned us against, and said that beyond this bay southwards the Chinese squatters were beyond control, and not to be trusted. They begged us not to let the sailors bathe in the south-west corner of the bay, where the river stream is damned at its place of debouchement. The bushes there come down to near the shore, and the savages are said to lurk about them in the early morning. The Chinese of Lungkeaou that came to meet us at the beach were themselves armed with spears and bows and arrows. Indeed, it appears to be the custom in these parts to go about armed. They conducted us inside their village, which contained some fair specimens of the Chinese brick-built house, and seemed to enjoy a fair share of prosperity. Most of the women, from their style of headdress, appeared to be of savage descent, more or less removed. Next day we landed after breakfast with three blue-jackets (all of us armed), and with [p. 125] two of the Lungkeaou chief men, and a head-man from an adjoining village, who were armed with spears with narrow lozenge-shaped blades and short pole-handles, walked over paths through rice-fields to a small village about 1 1/2 mile distant. At this village the people, especially the women, looked more savage still. The men were shaven and coiffed like Chinese; but many of them, and all the women, were not far removed from aborigines. Most of them carried, inserted in the lower lobe of the ear, a large circular piece of wood, flat, and incised on its face like the pawn of an ordinary backgammon board, and about the same size, with a surface coating of silver. Some of the women had rings of small coloured glass-beads in their ears. All the females had their hair bound up with red silk-twist, and wound round the head in double coronet. The old people were extremely ugly. From this village we walked under a hot sun along the north bank of a mountain-river. The rocks on the north bank of the river were steep, and some of them finely laminated with narrow strata-like shale; over the side of these the path ran. The river rushed rapidly over the shingle, and at the foot of the steepest hill deepened into a quiet pool. From its banks we struck into a cart-road, which crosses the river at a shallow ford, and following the road through a picturesque shaded avenue, came out upon a paddock-like enclosure for cattle. Here two sturdy savage youths made their appearance. They had shaven heads, and were naked, with the exception of a curtain hanging from the waist in front and behind, the two pieces overlapping over the left hip, but leaving the right one exposed. They were armed with bows and arrows, and were plump in face and limb, rather brown in complexion, with a pleasant, though wild, expression in their faces. We were conducted onwards to the house of a Chinese settler, whence, after a halt, we were led to a small Kalee settlement. This consisted of one long hut, built of mud and thatched, partitioned inside by mud walls into separate houses, each containing one chief room and one side room. The rooms were small and low, and lighted only by the door. To one end of this long hut a few others of humbler type had been tacked on. The inside of the rooms contained a table, some rude benches, and a rough wooden board, with a mat over it, which served, without posters, mattress, or mosquito-curtains, for a bed. Their crockery consisted of a few blue-pattern Chinese rice-bowls. On the whitewashed walls were nailed stags' frontlets with out-branching horns on them, and the horns were used as rests for their well-polished white-metal gunbarrels, and for the long wooden stocks for the same. On the horn-snags hung the brass rings which run over and unite the barrel to the stock, ramrods with white-metal tops, pipes with carved bowls of bamboo-root, net-bags, &c. There was evident sign of Chinese civilisation amongst them, and a pile of freshly-gathered paddy in front of the house showed that they paid some attention to agriculture. These people belonged to the Choojuy tribe of Kalees, having villages numbering in all about 10,000 persons, under the chief, Tok-ke-tok, and his four sons. They all shave their heads, and wear short queues, and are in friendly relation with the Chinese; albeit the two races do not trust each other, and never venture out of doors without some arm&emdash;either spears, swords, or bows and arrows. These Kalees acknowledge fealty to a woman, Potsoo, who is hereditary sovereign of all the Kalees. Her court is said to be held in the mountains near Taiwanfoo. I jotted down the following few words of their dialect:&emdash;

One, Eeta.

Two, Lusa.

Three, Tolo.

Four, S'pat.

Five, Lima.

Six, Unnum.

Seven, Pecho.

Eight, Haloo.

Nine, Siva.

Ten, Polo.

100 (one hundred) = Tai-tai.

1000 (one thousand) = Koo-joo

Silver = Hwaneekeo.

Fire = Sapooy.

"There was amongst them a tall lad, with a silly Chinese kind of countenance, whom the Chinese described as half a fool. He had a large ring inside the [p. 126] lobe of his ear instead of a pawn. He belonged to another race further north, the Ah-mees, or Kahmees (Kwei-ying?). But as he had been captured when quite a boy, he knew nothing of the language of his fathers. I was told it was ten days' journey to that country, and that the people there called fire Laman. The Kweiyings of the Tamsuy mountains use this word for fire, instead of the different variations of apooy employed by the tribes of the Kalee race. In stature the Kalees in this neighbourhood varied considerably; some were tall and well-built, others short and broad. Some were a yellow-brown, as fair as the fairest working Chinese, some quite brown. Their faces, too, differed in form; some having large heads with broad lower jaws, like Malays; some heads approaching the Mongol type. Their eyelids in most cases were drawn down at the inner lids, and their eyes far apart. Their noses varied in shape, but were not pug and flattened, and not broad, but mostly of moderate size, the nostrils not much exposed, and the bridges indented about the middle. A little dark old man called forcibly to my mind a similar individual among the Kweiyings, near Tamsuy, and seemed to be a connecting link between these otherwise differing races. The men had their heads shaved à la Chinoise, and their hair plaited into short queues, which they wore wound round their crowns, set off most tastily with red or white flowers and green plants. Their jackets were sleeveless, opening down the front, and fastened with Chinese loops and bobs. From their waist hung a short apron in front, and a similar one behind, as I have before described. The right thigh was exposed, to keep clear of the bowstring in shooting. Their bag-pouches hung on the left side, supported by a belt of small white-metal chains linked together, and set at regular distances with red cornelian beads, and extending from the right shoulder across the breast. A short sword with a one-sided scabbard was stuck through the girdle behind. Some carried spears, others a bow in one hand, and arrows without feathers in the other. Blue, drab, and purple were the colours of their clothes. The lower lobes of their ears were pierced and greatly extended with pawn-shaped circular bits of wood, inserted one into each ear. The women's hair I have before noted. From their ears usually hung small rings of coloured beads, or stems of cotton, ending in red tufts, like those of the Kweiying women. They, as well as the men, often wore bead-necklaces. They had on short jackets, with very short sleeves, and shorter than those of the men, in fact only just long enough to cover the breast. Their abdomens were exposed. They were girded with a cloth reaching to the knees, and overlapping in front. They were for the most part very similar to the women of Sawo. This hamlet was close to the foot of well-wooded hills, and was surrounded by a copse. We had some rifle and pistol practice, which astonished the savages, and induced them to shoot with their bows and arrows. Their bows are of the rudest description: they are made of tough wood, and have a notched rest in the middle for the string when loose to rest in. Their arrows are made of a strong kind of jointed reed, are about 2 1/4 feet long, and have neither feather nor notch wherewith to plant it on the string. The iron head, shaped like a nail, a lance-head, or a shark's tooth, is stuck into one end of the reed, and fastened tight in with a binding of string. They are sharp, but carry true only to a very short distance. The savages would insist upon approaching the target within a few yards before they fired at it. They draw the bow with the two first fingers and thumb, and fire through the curved forefinger of the left hand which holds the bow. Their spears consist of iron lance-heads thrust into one end of a long bamboo or wooden pole, and tied tight round at that end with rattan and bamboo. Their swords are much the same as those I got near Tamsuy, and exhibited to the Geographical Society on a former occasion. No tattoo of any kind appears to be worn by the members of the Choojuy tribe near Lungleaou.

[P. 127] "We returned before nightfall. In passing the high hill that flanks the river, a large party of monkeys crossed the rocks above on all-fours from one cover to another. The rifles were uncapped, and we unfortunately missed the animals. They were the Macacus cyclopis, a species peculiar to Formosa, of which I have placed a pair in the Zoological Gardens, London. I collected two or three species of Helix, which I had not met in North Formosa. The largest of these was particularly common on the bushes by the road-side. From the large-leaved figs and other trees I got a few of a good-sized richly-coloured Bulimus, also new to my Formosan list. The foliage was in places very luxuriant. A large comb-backed lizard amused himself and disgusted me by clinging to my cheek while I sat under the shade of a hedge. The natives said it was poisonous, but I believe they were mistaken. The same lizard occurs at Takow, and I have captured it repeatedly with the hand without receiving any injury. The large long-bodied painted spider hung its immense yellow silk nets from tree to tree, as they do also at Takow. They live on moths, butterflies, dragonflies, and the larger insects. The nets are very strong, and it is peculiarly unpleasant running your head against one. On my return to the plain from the hill valley, we passed a village a little to the southward and westward of Lungkeaou. This was peopled by Hakkas, colonists from north Kwangtung province, and a few of the older men spoke very fair Mandarin. The head-man of this Hakka village showed us a letter from a Dutch captain, who had been into the bay and got provisions from his people. The letter was written in Dutch and English, and spoke in good terms of the kindness he had met with. It was the people of this village who some years back had received and protected from the savages the crew of the Larpent, which vessel was wrecked on the south coast. They were for this good act shortly afterwards handsomely rewarded by the British Government, who sent Mr. (now Sir Harry) Parkes there in a steamship of war for the purpose. The villagers alluded frequently to the Larpent affair in their conversation with us. Below Lungkeaou we saw no more villages on the coast. The hills are lower, and in some places quite denuded of trees, and a hut or two here or there speckles the shore. The South Cape affords only an indented bay. We could find nothing approaching a harbour, the water being deep quite close to the land. There was a good deal of treeless land here, but we could see only one hut. A few rafts, with two Chinese apiece, were floating on the bay, the Chinese being engaged in fishing. Those people were frightened, and would not come near us. We held a shouting conversation with them. They spoke of a village of some size inland, and declared that there were no savages in that neighbourhood. This last, however, was not true, as a party from the Dove surveying-gunboat were only the other day fired upon by a crowd of savages at the South Cape. One sailor received rather a severe wound, and the boat the Dove's people were in got a good deal riddled with the savages' bullets, which were found to be made of foreign lead. Towards the south-west point of the Cape, on the bay side, is a curious rock, looking at a distance like a large stone-built mansion. It projects from the hill, and seems to be composed of large horizontal slabs of limestone, superincumbent on vertical slabs of the same. This is the famous Chessboard Rock of the Chinese, on which some assert having seen the Genii of the hills playing at chess, though probably such genii were nothing more than monkeys. Off the south-east point and some way to seaward a heavy tide-ripple occurred, the water chopping and jumping, though the sea was smooth and calm. The water was deep blue, and the current moving northward. During summer at least part of the Kurosiwo Stream would appear to run up the west coast, but it is not exactly the same steady flow that runs on the east side, and is more or less overwhelmed by the downward set of the China Sea. Lammay Island, or Little Lewkew, as the Chinese call it, is in formation very [p. 128] similar-looking to the Ape's Hill range, and the Rover's Group appear to have characters intermediate between the Pescadores and this. The Pescadores are mostly flat-topped islands, from 100 to 300 feet high, formed of trap and basaltic rock, the strata of the latter occurring in two or three layers with gravel between. Panghoo island, viewed from the north-west has a cone-shaped hill, a little flattened at the top, with a small rock on its centre, and resembles in form a female's nippled breast. Table Island is conspicuously basaltic, the basalt being disposed side by side like stakes, a bundle of them peaking out on one side near the top. The rock is of a dark hue. Most of the islands have green tops, and are terraced for cultivation on every available side. Some of them have sandy beaches; the sand being white and gritty, like that of the China coast, and not black and fine like that of the Formosa shore.

"I cannot drop the subject of Formosa without saying a few words on the progress of the survey, under the attention of the man-of-war Swallow and Dove tender, which vessels (thanks to the kindly interposition of the Royal Geographical Society) the Hydrographic Office lost no time in detailing to our island. These two vessels did not, however, fairly commence the coast-line till April. The Dove first planned the coast south of this to the Cape, while the Swallow crossed over to Amoy for a supply of coal; then the Dove was left to map the harbour, while the Swallow explored the coast north of Taiwan. This last vessel, however, owing to the lateness of the season, did not get over much more than half the ground between Richard's and Gordon's surveys. Mr. E. Wild, Master commanding, was instructed to survey the treaty port of Taiwan, but considering that he could not much benefit the roadstead off Taiwanfoo by a special survey, he consented to devote a chart to Takow Harbour, which was much in need of a good survey. Mr. Stanley, commanding the Dove, has kindly given me a tracing of the Takow chart for my office, and Mr. Wilds has promised me similar tracings of the south and north coast, and Formosa Channel. The chart of Takow is an excellent piece of work, and shows that no labour has been spared to ensure its correctness. It comprises, besides the harbour, the approach from the sea."