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Fri, Jun 16, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Historic manuscripts go on display

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Lin family of Wufeng donates manuscripts, books and artifacts to National Taiwan University's library yesterday.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

An exhibition of manuscripts recording the activities of the renowned Chestnut Leaved Oak Poetry Society (櫟社) of Taichung, which was active during the Japanese colonial period, opened to the public yesterday at the National Taiwan University library.

The Lin family of Wufeng (霧峰林家), Taichung, one of the most influential clans of the Ching dynasty, was the original owner of the historic records.

But the devastating 921 earthquake destroyed 90 percent of the wooden buildings in the 200-year-old Lin family compound and so the Lins decided to find a new home for the papers.

"We simply had no place to look after these things," said Lin Shun-tsung (林順宗).

The Chestnut Leaved Oak Poetry Society, established in 1902, was one of the most influential poetry societies during the period of Japanese rule from 1895 to 1945.

The society counted famous local literati among its members, including Lin Hsien-tang (林獻堂), Lin Yu-chun (林幼春) and Tsai Hui-ju (蔡惠如), who were also important figures in the island's anti-Japanese movement during the 1920s.

Researchers into Chinese literature expressed joy over the opening of these records, which were once regarded as family heirlooms.

"I am thrilled. They've become cultural property to be shared by all Taiwanese" said Liao Jen-fu (廖振富), a Chinese literature scholar at the National Taichung Institute of Technology.

Liao urged other well-known families in Taiwan still in in possesion of historic manuscripts to follow the example of the Lin family, to enable researchers to have better access to original material.

Also on show were private let-ters and photos of the Ching dynasty-style architecture of the buildings in the family compound taken before and after the earthquake.

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