Materials from Tourism Bureau, Republic of China (Taiwan)
Melting Pot of Different Cultures including Chinese Culture, Aboriginal Culture, Colonial Culture
If this is your first visit to Taiwan, you will most certainly be amazed at the diversity of things this beautiful island has to offer, as a rich historical background has provided Taiwan with a multifaceted culture. People from many different places and backgrounds, such as Taiwan's indigenous people, the
southern Fujianese from early China, Hakka immigrants, the Dutch, Spanish, and Japanese, and the recent immigrants from mainland China have all played a role in Taiwan's development. While gradually developing a new culture indigenous to Taiwan, they also held on to their respective customs and traditions; as a result, you will be able to sample indigenous, Taiwanese, and Chinese cultures and even find traces left by the Dutch and the Japanese when traveling in Taiwan.
Taiwan forms the center of Chinese art and culture, which is not only obvious from the exhaustive collection of cultural relics from past dynasties exhibited in the famous National Palace Museum, but can also be perfectly illustrated by the traditional architecture and folk art found in Taiwan.
Temples and Architecture
Taiwan's traditional architecture is an aggregation of folk art. Decorations are refined and while they form an important part of the architecture, ranging from colored paintings to calligraphic illustrations, wooden and stone carvings, clay sculptures and ceramics, they tell the story of Taiwan's rich culture. Next to traditional Chinese architecture brought to Taiwan by the southern Fujianese from early China and the Hakka immigrants (such as can be seen in Banciao at the Lin Family Garden), architectural features used in Chinese temples can also be found across Taiwan. Some of the most famous temples in Taiwan that are not only of historical but also of artistic value are the Longshan (Dragon Mountain) Temple and the Mazu Temple (Queen of Heaven Temple) in Lugang, and the Chaotian Temple in Beigang.
Folk Art and Culture
Some of Taiwan's most important annual holidays and festivals include the Chinese New Year, the Lantern Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival, Lovers' Day, and the Hungry Ghosts Festival. But local Taiwanese folk events, such as the Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage, the Goddess Mazu Making Rounds of Inspection in Beigang, the City God Welcoming in Taipei, the Burning of the Plague God Boat in Donggang, and aboriginal rituals, are also regarded as important celebrations. Next to keeping traditional Chinese opera alive, Taiwan has also developed its own Taiwanese opera and the famous glove puppet theater. Taiwanese opera combines local opera and music into one performing art, while the puppet theater has undergone great modernization in recent years and many special effects are added to performances today, making it extremely popular among Taiwan's younger generation. Taiwan's movies and performing groups are also gradually gaining ground on the international stage, once again demonstrating the traditional and creative value of Chinese and Taiwanese culture.
The mysterious customs and traditions of the aborigines, Taiwan's indigenous people, such as the Harvest Festival (Smatto), the Worship of Hunting (Mabuasu), spiritual rituals, totemism, and snake worship, give an extra dimension to Taiwan's culture. The aboriginal tribes of Taiwan form the most northern branch of the Austronesian language group, and ethnically belong to the Malay race. Most aborigines have retreated into the mountains; but although many are faced with assimilation, still some 13 different tribes that have their own languages, traditions, and tribal structure can be distinguished: the Amis, the Atayal, the Paiwan, the Bunun, the Puyuma, the Rukai, the Zou, the Saisiyat, the Tau, the Sao, the Kavalan, the Truku and the sakizaya.Orchid Island's Tau tribe has been relatively isolated due to the island's geographical location, and was the last to come in contact with the Han Chinese; this tribe, therefore, has been able to preserve its aboriginal culture the best.
Remnants of colonial periods can still be found in many parts of Taiwan. Fort San Domingo in Danshui, for example, used to be home to the Spain and the Dutch successively, while bustling places such as Taipei's Dihua Street, Taoyuan's Daxi area, and Tainan's Xinhua area have still been able to preserve the outstanding baroque architecture left by the Japanese. Some historically significant structures built during the Japanese occupation include the Presidential Office Building, the Executive Yuan, and the old National Taiwan University Hospital Building in Taipei. Recently, decorative night lighting has been installed to display the graceful features of these old structures while at the same time illuminating the night skies of Taipei and creating an artistic and romantic atmosphere.
Taiwan incorporates all this, a true cultural banquet: whether you are looking for something romantic, legendary, stately, or interesting, it's all here for you to discover.