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Past Exhibits

Rebuilding the Tongan Ships
Rebuilding the Tongan Ships
  • Dates: 2013/07/20~2013/09/22
  • Location: Boiler Room of Huashan 1914 Creative Park (No. 1, Sec. 1, Bateh
  • Fare: Free Admission

Exhibit Info

The documentary Rebuilding the Tongan Ships is a film made according to our "Revitalize the collection and generate added values" guidelines. Our special study group investigated the "Tongan ship 'Ji' Diagram" and related Qing records to recreate the heyday of 19th century's crowded Eastern Asia oceans and also the Tongan ships' glory by making physical models and 3D virtualized models.

China's oceans of the early 19th century became more and more crowded. The Qing Empire increased its naval forces in order to keep the seas from crimes. However, Vietnam's conflicting factions saw pirates as highly valuable allies. Their alliances strengthened the pirates. In response, the Qing Empire deployed naval fleets in Southeastern China, Taiwan and Penghu Islands to fight pirates and protect the traders. Tongan ships were the key player of this period.

Ships are not only a means for transportation. They catalyze the evolutions of politics, military, economics and culture. As a newly emerged ocean vessel, Tongan ships were used by the civilians and pirates as well. In the end, they have become the main force of the Qing Empire's navy. They were numerous and versatile. They were deployed from China's northern coastline to Taiwan. They were the quintessential Chinese sailing vessel before they were replaced by steamships.

The "Tongan ship 'Ji' Diagram" and the "Tongan ship 'No. 1' Diagram" of the Palace Museum are the most important drawing records regarding the Tongan ships. Their subjects are the heaviest and most powerful fighting ships of the Tongan ship family. These two diagrams are not only just highly detailed. They are accompanied with corresponding official memorials. They are not just naval history artifacts. They represent a field previously unexplored by Taiwan's historians and naval history historians.

This film consists of three parts. The first part presents the story behind the rise of the Tongan ships. The second part describes how we restored the ships. The third part shows the main structures of the ship using 3D visualization technologies.
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