The Flag of the Formosan Republic
L 310cm × W 260cm , 1908 facsimiled by the Taiwan Governor-General’s Office Museum
In 1895, the Qing dynasty signed the Treaty of Simonoseki with Japan, ceding Taiwan and Penghu to Japan. The intellectuals and gentry of Taiwan tried every effort to ask the government to repeal it. Yet the Qing dynasty declared that Taiwan would be unrelated ever since, refusing to provoke Japan again in any way, and prohibited domestic officials from assisting Taiwan. Taiwan had no choice but to find other excuses and directly seek outside support, expressing its disconnection with the Qing dynasty.
Tang Jing-song, former Qing Governor of Taiwan, was inaugurated as President on May 25, 1895 after 21 cannon salutes. Inside the Taipei city walls, a flag featuring a yellow tiger on the blue ground with a length of 3.1 m and a width of 2.6 m painted in oil colors was raised, and the Republic of Formosa was born. However, western powers’ expected intervention did not occur and Japanese troops had already landed on the island of Taiwan. 10 days later, Tang Jing-song escaped from Taiwan in panic, leaving behind a group of undisciplined soldiers looting and killing recklessly. And the blue flag with a yellow tiger as a symbol of the Formosan Republic became a trophy in the hands of the Japanese army.
After a regime change in Taipei, the resistance against Japan became the responsibility of Taiwan’s local gentry and braves. The bloody battle lasted five months and then the Japanese army invaded Tainan, forcing Liu Yong-fu, the celebrated general against French army, to leave Tainan where he had defended. On October 21, Japanese troops marched into Tainan and declared pacification of the entire Taiwan. The Republic of Formosa was officially terminated. The flag of the Formosan Republic was shipped to Japan and stored in the Shintenfu of Imperial Palace. Approved by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan in 1908, the Governor-General’s Office Museum of Taiwan commissioned the painter Untei Takahashi to make a replica after the original flag for the Museum’s exhibition and collection. Now it has been more than a hundred years since then. This work is deemed one of the oldest collection objects of the Museum.