Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ceramic air-raid shelters

This pot wasn't fired to store water or grain. Rather, it was commissioned during World War II by the Japanese colonial authorities to serve as a one-man air-raid shelter. Contemplating the possibility of Allied forces landing on Taiwan's beaches, the Japanese (who ruled Taiwan between 1895 and 1945) ordered hundreds of these pots, which could be buried in sand or soil, horizontally or vertically, protecting individual soldiers from bullets and bomb fragments. 

According to information at Shuili Snake Kiln (水里蛇窯), where I took this photo, because Taiwanese potters were needed to produce these air-raid shelters and other items needed for the war effort, they were exempted from conscription into Japan's imperial armed forces. Similar pots were also bought by wealthy individuals; one is on display inside this traditional courtyard house

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dragonflies in Taiwan

Just as it has an incredible number of avian and lepidopteran species for its size, Taiwan also has a stunning array of dragonflies. Around 145 species have been recorded on the island, including one previously unidentified dragonfly which earlier this year was given the  scientific name Sarasaeschna chiangchinlii in honour of Chiang Chin-li, a wildlife photographer who helped make the discovery. Its English name is Hook-tailed Bog-hawker.

The link above goes to The Dragonflies of Taiwan, a Chinese-language blog with stunning photos of almost 160 local dragonfly and damselfly species, conveniently organised by family and including scientific names. Of them, 26 are classed as endemics. Despite the quality of the images, I haven't been able to identify the dragonfly in the image above, which I spotted a couple of years ago by a creek in Maokong (貓空), part of Taipei best explored by taking the Maokong Gondola and then doing some short hikes.