Wandering in Ancient Sazum: A Journey through Historical GIS from Qing Dynasty Documents

This multimedia exhibition was inspired by one of the Qing official files in the National Palace Museum’s collections—the Memorial Following the Edict to Survey Indigenous Lands of the Six Shé of Sazum, Gain an Understanding of the Indigenous Situation at Each Shé and Investigate Unauthorized Land Development by Subjects and Indigenous. It is a record of the Governor-General of Min-Zhe Liu Yunke’s inspection tour of the central mountainous areas of Taiwan in 1846. The phenomena described in the memorial can be seen as the epitome of land development in central Taiwan at the time.

Based on historical records and field investigations, the curatorial team found the entrance that our predecessors used to gain passage into the mountains. The team then reconstructed the cultural map of central Taiwan through industrial development records, Qing dynasty literature, and census records during the Japanese colonial era. The results were then integrated with advanced technologies such as virtual reality, GIS (Geographic Information System), 3D printing, projection mapping, and presented to the public via digital interactive displays.

Though the museum cannot avoid presenting related issues through its collections, it is nevertheless dedicated to excavating the unheard voices of the ethnic groups recorded in the historical materials and using digital methods to render their images and sounds in the galleries. At the end of the exhibition, we also created a space for civic participation and invited visitors to discuss the contemporary significance of land policies and their impact on different ethnic groups.

By integrating history, geographical information and digital technology, the exhibition aims to provide visitors with a comprehensive and thorough content. It also allows visitors to determine their routes inside the gallery and to browse, explore in-depth, or simply immerse in this spatial experience. Through the multiple perspectives (or sounds) on display, we hope the exhibition will spur our audiences to think about the issues from different viewpoints and emerge from the galleries with new discoveries and inspiration.