An exhibition highlighting 10 shops and historic sites that have existed in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華) for more than a century opened on Saturday at the Bopiliao Historic Block (剝皮寮歷史街區).
Bangka, or Monga (艋舺), as the district is traditionally known, used to be the busiest commercial port in northern Taiwan, the Bopiliao Historic Block said, adding that many century-old shops originated in the district.
The exhibition, titled “Wanhua Craftsmen’s Century of Oral History,” spotlights local gathering places and food, traditional craftsmanship, as well as religion and cultural artifacts, it said.
Photo courtesy of Bopiliao Historic Block
Co-organized by the Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs, the Taipei Culture Foundation and the Bopiliao Historic Block, the exhibition aims to allow audiences to explore the district’s rich history and its collective memory, which has been passed down through the generations, it said.
One of the shops featured in the exhibition is Lao Ming Yu Incense Shop (老明玉香鋪), which “uses more than 20 different types of Chinese herbs as its base ingredients, insisting on natural, chemical-free fragrances and pigments,” a description in the exhibition says.
Established in 1897 by Huang Can (黃燦), the shop, which today is on Guiyang Street, has been passed down in the Huang family for four generations, organizers said.
Another shop highlighted in the exhibition is Fu Shan Steamer (富山蒸籠), a company that has drawn business from “countless” restaurants and hotels with its bamboo steamers, organizers said.
Passed down through five generations, the business, on Guilin Road, has been developing customized steamers in the past few years, a description says.
Local eateries, such as Guangzhou Street’s Xin Zhu Ba Wan (新竹肉圓), which sells Taiwanese meatballs and other dishes; Liang Xi Hao (兩喜號), a restaurant on Xiyuan Road known for its youyugeng (魷魚羹, squid potage); and Taipei Monaka (台北堂摩那卡餅本舖), a shop on Bangka Boulevard that specializes in Japanese desserts, are also included in the exhibition.
Alongside the displays that provide introductions to the histories of the century-old businesses and buildings, organizers have also included artifacts such as paper currency and maps of present-day Wanhua District from the Japanese colonial era.
The exhibition is held to coincide with the centennial of Taipei’s establishment this year, Bopiliao Historic Block Director Charlene Chao (趙釧玲) said at the opening reception of the exhibition yesterday.
While the shop owners might consider themselves “ordinary,” their lives serve as a record of the district’s history, she said.
The exhibition, which is free of charge, is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 6pm and runs through Nov. 1.
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