Hsiao Family's Old House

Hsiao Family Old House in Pingtung

Chinese Name
: 蕭家古厝

Located At:  Pingtung County (Southern Taiwan)

Year of Establishment: 1860

English Address: No. 150, Gouzhu Road, Jiadong Township, Pingtung County, 931

Jiadong Township was originally the residence of the Makatao people of Pingpu tribe’s Jiateng community. Its old name was Liu Jiao (六腳) or Jia Dong Jiao (茄苳腳). Later, a large number of Hakkas moved into settlements here and built homes. Among them, the Hsiao Family's House was the only five-hall mansion of Hakka style in Taiwan. At present, the Hsiao Family's Old House is managed by a management committee and is the first privatized heritage site in Pingtung County.

The Hsiao family’s ancestors came from Meixian District of Guangdong Province in China. After crossing the sea to Taiwan in the 19th century, he first settled in Tainan and then relocated to Jiadong. The Hsiao family first started their business in winemaking, and gradually accumulated wealth from business, dying fabric and the rice industry. They also purchased a large number of fields, and gradually became the largest family in Jiadong.

Construction on the Hsiao Family's Old House began in 1860 and lasted until 1880. It went on for three generations and took more than 20 years to formally complete. With an area of more than 4,000 square meters and a total of more than 50 rooms, it can accommodate nearly 100 people.

The house was built in the pattern of homes in the Hsiao family’s ancestral hometown in Guangdong. Moreover, they hired masters from Guangdong’s Tangshan to come to Taiwan to supervise the construction work. The construction materials were also shipped from mainland China.

Inside the Hsiao Family Old House

The gate of Hsiao mansion has a Baroque style, and the spatial layout is a kind of cage-like structure that resembles the Chinese character “回 (return)” with defensive functions. It has some of the characteristics of the Hakka homes in Liudui Hakka settlement. The layout has five entrance halls and four inner rafts to make it symmetrical. The first to fourth halls in the house have a history of more than 100 years, and the fifth hall was built during the Japanese occupation period.

The roofs gradually increase in height from the front of the mansion to the back, with the fourth hall having the highest roof. This symbolizes the step-by-step rise as one goes from one hall to the next, fully reflecting the concept of the traditional Chinese ethics "order of honor."

In addition, the 1995 feature "Good Men, Good Women (好男好女)" directed by Hakka director Hou Hsiao-hsien, featured the real history of several Taiwanese youths who were dissatisfied with Japanese colonial rule in 1940 and went to mainland China to participate in the Second Sino-Japanese War. One of the main characters in the film, Hsiao Dao-ying, was born in a village in southern Taiwan. His great-grandfather was the Hakka leader Hsiao Guang-ming, who organized villagers to resist the Japanese invasion in 1895 and died in the battle heroically in the end.

The battle against Japan was led by a group of Hakka from Liudui settlement who did not want to surrender to Japanese rule after the Qing Dynasty ceded Taiwan to Japan in 1895. The then Hakka leader Hsiao Guang-ming commanded the battle and assembled the army to be stationed at Bu Yue Building on the south side of the Hsiao Family's Old House. On the door and wall of the building, you can still see the bullet marks left by the anti-Japanese war at that time. They stand witness to the spirit of the Hakka ancestors in defending their homeland. In history, it is called the Battle of Bu Yue Building (步月樓戰役).

The Hsiao Family's Old House has a high degree of achievements, be it from the materials used in the construction to the fineness of the construction and the intricacy of the carving. It is enough to represent Taiwan’s traditional architectural art and is a testimony to the indelible history in the Jiadong area.