Windows in Taiwan
A Definition of a Window
Everyone knows what a window is, or do they? My dictionary defines a window as an opening that is fitted with glass and a frame to let in light or air and to allow people to see out. This definition probably suits most of the houses we live in and even the windows of my car.
However, I cannot find a definition that will cover all the windows I photographed in Taiwan, a few of which are shown here. Some of these windows are barred, some have no glass and some have unusual shapes and reveal a view like that of a picture-frame. This presents a dilemma: what should we call them? Or should we redefine the word, 'window'?
Then there is another problem: the size of the window. If it may be walked through does that make it a doorway instead? But the windows that can be stepped through in Taiwan parks, for instance, do not have doors, so can they be correctly called doorways?
The Barred Window
Many small, traditional style houses in Taiwan, especially in the older parts of cities or in countryside villages have bars on the windows. Not all of these are glazed.
They do have a frame and they let in light and air, but they do not fulfil all the prerequisites in the definition of a window, yet they are windows. What else could we call them? Frequently, the unglazed, barred window will have strong wooden shutters inside to protect the occupants from wind and rain in times of storms and typhoons.
In the photograph above, the windows onto the balcony are glazed and narrow. They are decorated around the frames with different coloured paints and special, traditional designs, each of which has significance.
Other types of decorative windows have been especially designed, such as the shaped window on the left in the same building. For the people inside it provides an interesting frame around the view to the outside world.
For the people of Taiwan, with their long heritage of culture, arts and crafts are a way of life. Many things which we observe as being strictly utilitarian are valued and enjoyed for the different ways in which they can be presented. It is not just a window, it is a work of art.
There are many beautiful parks in and around Taipei City
The delightful butterfly window in the photograph above has been carefully designed to allow a tantalising glimpse of the trees and shrubs in another part of the park on the other side of the wall.
The design of special windows in parks in Taiwan is amazingly varied. In the Capital, Taipei, there is a large park that has a huge, high wall that surrounds the whole park. Along the length of this wall there must be a hundred small, unglazed windows placed at intervals and not one of those windows is an exact replica of any other.
The park windows offer glimpses of the tree-cooled interior. Here people sit, nibble at snacks, watch over children who run around exploring the gardens or enjoy the ambience. Another window reveals a secluded corner where a lone man plays a melancholy tune on a Chinese stringed instrument. If the passer-by outside strains his ears as he hurries along in the hot sun, beset by noisy, frenetic traffic, he hears the gentle moan of the music.
Through a further window there is a quick view of a group of elderly gentlemen in traditional robes sitting around under shady trees, idly chatting. Some have brought small bamboo cages and strung them up in the lower branches of the trees. They stop talking to listen as their pet songbirds in the cages merrily start up and join together in happy chorus.
The numerous parks that are dotted in and around the city of Taipei are peaceful refuges and rest for the eyes after all the high-rise buildings. Here, for no apparent reason apart from the enjoyment of art, we find graceful shapes hidden away in unexpected corners.
These shapes are like windows that open up another vista, but they do not fulfil the definition of a window. Some of the decorative shapes are to be found as integral parts of public buildings in the park. The buildings may be a memorial, a rest-house or a refreshment kiosk. The decorative 'windows' connected with them provide surprising vistas of other corners, perhaps inside the park, perhaps outside.
A Window or a Doorway
In the photograph above there is a pathway where people enjoy walking for both pleasure and exercise. At intervals there are large windows, or are they doorways? They add to the conundrum: our definition of a doorway is that it must have a door, and that should be hinged!
The circular arches must be stepped over as one progresses along the path to see and enjoy the next 'garden room' of the park. Here, they all look like circles, but each is subtly different. The need to slow down to step over gives time to appreciate the work that has gone into making the particular shape and design of each doorway decoration. The shape also provides a frame for the next attraction.
Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, but it is also in the eye and purpose of the designer and builder who is influenced by hundreds of years of culture and tradition.
Places to Visit Around the World
- A Visit to Beautiful Orchid Island
Share in a visit to Orchid Island in a year when Children's Day fell on a Monday so we had a long weekend. It is truly beautiful, but has some problems, too.
- Volunteering in PNG - Fifty Years On (A Poem)
Two years ago I revisited the D'Entrecasteaux Islands fifty years after first going to live there for three years. Remembrances, written in verse, of the places and lovely friendships made there. Includes photographs of the beautiful scenery.
- Papuan Island Celebrations
During a stay on Fergusson Island as a Volunteer, I had an interesting trip in a dinghy to visit a bishop and his wife. Some time later I participated in the annual Wesley Day celebrations.
- Shanghai Museum: A Glimpse of Ceramics Products Through the Centuries
In this part of 'Wonderful Ceramics in Shanghai Museum', we look at some products of the industry through the ages, including the portrayal of animals, such as dogs, horses and camels, funerary figures and the shapes, decorations and pottery carving.
- Shanghai Museum: Ceramics, Kilns and Production Methods
- Fascinating New Zealand Kauri Trees
Visitors to New Zealand will be delighted with the Kauri forest and the Northland Heritage Museum. The uses of both the timber and the Kauri Resin, or fossilized gum, are surprisingly varied and most interesting. Both places are well worth a visit.
- Cruising in Prince William Sound, Alaska
- A Visit to Kuching on the Island of Borneo
After a brief stay in the Malaysian State of Sarawak we fell in love with the place, the sights and the friendly people. With its climate that ranges from tropical in Kuching to cool in the mountain rain-forests it is a delight to visit.
- Cape Town's Table Mountain
Table Top Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, is a World Heritage Site. The delicate flora and fauna are interesting and there is much to attract the photographer, including the famous Tablecloth.
- Out and About in Cape Town
Table Mountain is the famous place to see in Cape Town, but there are many other interesting places to visit in the town and in the nearby environment. As well as places, buildings, activities and the wildlife there is a great variety of food.