Between 1683 and 1895, large swathes of Taiwan came under the rule of China’s last imperial dynasty, the Qing. During the more than 200 years of imperial Chinese rule, few people from Taiwan rose to the prominence achieved by Wang Delu. Through a military career that spanned the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Wang helped the Qing Dynasty put down rebels and smash the pirates that plagued the empire’s coast. He received imperial favor and at the end of his life came out of retirement to defend the empire against foreign aggression.
Wang was born and is buried on Taiwan’s southwest plain in the town of Taibao, Chiayi County. The town is named in Wang’s honor, “Taibao” being a high imperial title that was bestowed on him during his lifetime. Taibao is also notable for being home to the National Palace Museum’s Southern Branch, which opened there in 2015. The career of this proud local son is the subject of an ongoing exhibit at the museum, called “Wang Delu and the Tongan Ship”. Here to tell us more about Wang Delu and the museum’s look back at his life is assistant researcher Wang Chian-yu.