The Ministry of Culture on June 4 upgraded the heritage designation of the last remaining marker for a Qing Dynasty boundary between Han Chinese and Aboriginal land on Taiwan proper to “significant.”
The marker, which is in Taichung’s Shihgang District (石岡), was erected in the mid-18th century to delineate the tuniu boundary (土牛界線, a line formed by oxen ditches) around the central mountain range.
Hakka and Minnan people migrating to Taiwan were encroaching on Aboriginal land, so the Qing court prohibited Han Chinese from settling east of the boundary and strictly punished offenders.
Photo courtesy of Taichung Department of Cultural Heritage
On Aug. 1, 2013, the Taichung City Government recognized the Shihgang boundary marker as a “regular heritage item,” but the item is now a nationally recognized “significant heritage item,” the ministry said, adding that the central government would contribute more to the marker’s upkeep and repair.
A cultural heritage review committee yesterday said that the ministry approved the upgrade because of the marker’s significance to policies related to Aborigines in Taiwan and to the history of the nation’s development.
The name tuniu (clay ox) came from the shape of the mounds of earth that formed the ditches along the boundary in some areas, the Taichung Department of Cultural Heritage added.
The ditches, along with natural land formations and stone markers, informed Han settlers where they could farm, conduct business or develop the land, it said.
The policy of allowing Aborigines to have autonomy on their land was first instituted by the Qing court in 1722 and a map of Aboriginal land was drawn in 1735, while the boundary markers were erected over the following decades.
The Shihgang boundary marker was one of 19 markers that were erected in 1761 by then-Changhua County head magistrate Chang Shih-chen (張世珍).
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