In modern Taiwan, soft-shell turtleshave functioned chiefly as a dietary therapy. In line with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the Taiwanese have long regarded turtles as a dietary therapy that can nourish yin, cool blood, and benefit qi. Taiwanese have believed that, in particular, turtles' shells, heads, blood, meat, bladders, and eggs have salubrious effects. However, because turtles were traditionally hard to acquire, they rarely appeared on Taiwanese dining tables and were available for purchase mainly in specialty stores and seafood restaurants. Thus it was that, in the Qing era, Taiwanese tended to use wild turtles as medicine. By contrast, in the Japanese colonial era, Japanese regarded turtles as a precious food, and to satisfy demand for turtle products in their homeland, the colonizers in Taiwan launched a turtle-husbandry program aimed at improving incubation, feeding, and shipping methods. After World War Two, Taiwan's newly established Kuomintang government promoted only the most monetarily valuable aquatic products. Because the consumption value of turtles was considerably less than that of Milkfish, Tilapia, and shellfish, turtle husbandry on the island declined to the level of a side business. In the 1990s, however, the celebrated Chinese track-and-field team known as Team Ma claimed that eating turtle products enhanced physical vitality, triggering a spike in China's consumption of turtle products. Taiwanese farmers, with their skills in turtle husbandry, quickly responded to the renewed demand, revitalizing the island's turtle industry, which continues to thrive to this day. In examining the themes of husbandry and consumption in Taiwanese history, this paper argues that four main factors - TCM principles, Taiwan's evolving turtle-breeding system, colonial Japan's aquatic policy, and the Team Ma phenomenon - shaped the significance of turtles in modern Taiwanese history.
|Original language||Traditional Chinese|
|Number of pages||43|
|Publication status||Published - Apr 2019|
- Taiwanese history
- Japanese colonization
- turtle husbandry
- dietary therapy