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Takow harbour (Takao, Kaohsiung), Formosa [Taiwan]. Photograph by John Thomson, 1871.

  • Thomson, J. (John), 1837-1921.
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About this work


A view of the harbour from a hill, boats and buildings. Opposite side to Thomson's negative number 420

"[In Takow] there rises a hill more than 1,000 high and commonly known as Apes' Hill, from the large apes, its only inhabitants, which may be seen in great numbers about the crags. From this hill I obtained a commanding view of Takow harbour ..."--John Thomson, loc. cit.

Takao, literally meaning 'bamboo forest', was an ancient name for Kaoshiung. Under the Dutch, and later on under the Chinese, it developed into a prosperous fishing port, but much of the landscape and coast remained unspoiled, with a great coral reef and 'luxuriant tropical trees'. With the Treaty of Peking (Beijing) in 1860, however, the Qing government was forced to open Takao as a port for foreign trade. A British consul was posted there, and a few houses and companies were set up by foreigners. Thomson could see that 'in the hands of a civilized foreign power', the harbour could be further developed to provide larger access to shipping. Thomson's view of the harbour was taken from Takao Mountain, also known as Apes' Hill. The photograph shows the contrast between the already developed harbour and the uninhabited hill beyond



Physical description

1 photograph : glass photonegative, wet collodion : stereograph


View in Takow harbour, Formosa, Takowa, Formosa, China


This is one of a collection of original glass negatives made by John Thomson. The negatives, made between 1868 and 1872, were purchased from Thomson by Sir Henry Wellcome in 1921

References note

China through the lens of John Thomson, 1868-1872, Beijing: Beijing World Art Museum, 2009, p. 165 (reproduced)

Lettering note

Bears Thomson's negative number: "421"


Wellcome Library no. 19094i


  • English

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