Chiayi City 228 Memorial Park, Drinking the spring of life

This essay is part III of a loose series reflecting on a visit to Chiayi in November 2022. Click here for part I (Intro), part II (228 National Memorial Park), part IV (Chiayi Old Prison), and part V (Chiayi Park).

Whereas the 228 National Memorial Park situated outside the city was constructed in 2011 by the local government, the 228 Memorial Park was opened in 1996 (on February 28th, of course!) with notable support by the populace. The memorial hall was the first of its kind (i.e., remembering 228) in Taiwan, its construction was met by accidents/sabotage – and it was to our big frustration closed at the day we were there. The raging sika deer on a bronze relief mural next to the entrance seemed to share our pain…

Yet, it is not only the hall but the whole park that commemorates the victims of the 228 incident. On the rear side, a 27m high pillar of steel-reinforced concrete (“shaped like a bamboo harmonica of Taiwan’s aboriginal people”) depicted the “moment of soul relief”. Whether it is connected to victims of the 228 massacre or the massacring of aboriginals I unfortunately don’t know. (The Chinese Wikipedia article describes an inscription honoring that “the aborigines were the original masters of Taiwan.”) But it was touching nonetheless.

On the opposite side of the small lawn stood what a well-written Taipei-Times article describes as “the most photogenic feature” in the park (challenge accepted!): Another sculpture depicting four sika deer “drinking the spring of life”. The four deer symbolize the main four ethnic groups in Taiwan: aborigines, Hokkien (Taiwanese of Fujianese descent), Hakka, and people from other provinces.

As expected, I had a lot of fun looking for the perfect framing of the four beauties.