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Past exhibition

Special Exhibition
Trees: From beliefs to emotional resonance
    Trees are an integral part of the ecosystem. In their multitudes, and in both life and in death, trees provide all manner of lifeforms with sustenance, shelter, and even clothing and modes of transit. They also provide regulation and balance to the entire natural world. Whether in ancient times or in the present, trees have always been intimately connected to all aspects of our lives, and for this reason there is a wide variety of unique cultural creations related to arboreal themes. People have written poetry and lyrics about trees, vividly describing their forms. Some texts express awe at their heaven-touching enormity, or profess a longing to enjoy trees’ longevity. Still other pieces of writing lament trees’ transformation from flourishing lushness into dry husks of their former selves. The written record of sylvan tales gradually gave rise to many artistic motifs, often with an epochal character. Some imbue trees with an auspicious character, some turn them into objects of religious veneration, and some attribute ritual or even political functions to trees. Others, moreover, show the embedding of human emotions into objects and our environments in order to artistically reflect life events, express the hope to enjoy arborescently long and languorous lives, or to imagine ourselves as being as unswerving in spirit as trees are.
    This exhibition is divided thematically into five sections. Four of them—“Sacred Space: The border between the heavenly and human worlds;” “Longevity: An everlasting wish;” “Omens: The power bestowed by heaven;” and “Metaphors: States of human life”—expand upon the overarching theme of “Trees.” They illustrate the ways in which trees served as an artistic subject in China in particular and Asia in general in ancient times. Moving from heavenly realms and religiosity to nations and politics before arriving at everyday human life, these sections transition from the macro to the micro in their examination of the stories and historical epochs in which the exhibit’s cultural artifacts are rooted. Finally, a “bonus chapter” entitled “Memories of sacred trees” begins close to home by sharing stories of sacred trees well-known to modern people, including “shenmu ” and “dashu gong.” In so doing, this section helps us to trace backwards in time and gain an understanding of how trees played a part in ancient cultural and artistic imaginings.

Chapter 1: Sacred Space: The border between the heavenly and human worlds

    Trees don’t merely represent the life force contained in the earth—they can also serve as signifiers of geographical boundaries as well as landmarks. Moreover, mysterious trees in the far distance can evoke the atmosphere of realms inhabited by Daoist immortals, subtly suggesting the proximity of paradise. Classical writings from the Qin and Han dynasties and earlier include such magical trees as Taodu, Fusang, and Jianmu. Sometimes these trees were able to drive away evil influences, sometimes they were the homes for spirits and sprites, and sometimes they allowed for communication between the heavenly and human realms. Images of magical trees were widely used in burial chambers and sacrificial temples. Some alluded to the notion that humans are capable of ascending and becoming immortals, at the same time as their imagery implied the bestowal of protection and bright prospects to a deceased individual’s descendants.

    The myth that there is an osmanthus tree in the Lunar Palace was widely enjoyed during the Tang dynasty, and thus numerous bronze mirrors from this era are emblazoned with related motifs. The legend that the explorer Zhang Qian rode a wooden raft to the milky way also exerted a deep influence on Tang dynasty literature, and eventually became a common theme for Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasty sculptures. Additionally, as Buddhism spread, its assertion that the Buddha Shakyamuni’s birth as well as his enlightenment took place beneath trees led these images to put down deep roots in people’s hearts. Buddhism’s depictions of Pure Lands with “vast varieties of jeweled trees” were also passed down throughout history, informing the ways in which people envisioned the Buddhist heavens.

Chapter 2: Longevity: An everlasting wish

    Since ancient times, pine trees and peach trees have been laden with cultural significance, acting as symbols of long life. According to legend, peach trees provide “the timber of the Daoist immortals,” which is able to pacify ghosts and protect from pernicious influences. Beliefs pertaining to divine immortals flourished during the Han, Wei, and Jin dynasties, and classical writings record that peach tree sap was capable of curing diseases and aiding in the cultivation of Daoist immortality. “Immortal peaches” merged with the magical, immortality-bestowing medicines associated with the Queen Mother of the West, becoming a divine fruit that could drastically lengthen the lives of those who ate them. As history progressed, mythology and religious beliefs gradually blended with literature, leading to the creation of marvelous theatrical scripts such as “The Queen Mother of the West Throws a Feast of Immortal Peaches” and “Dongfang Shuo Steals the Peaches.”

    In addition to representing steadfastness in the face of the world’s vicissitudes and the ability to withstand trials and tribulations, evergreen trees such as pines and cypresses also came to symbolize eternal youth and long life. They were often displayed alongside tortoises, cranes, mystical deer, lingzhi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum) and other auspicious symbols from the natural world, and the trunks and branches of pine trees were even painted in such a way as to evoke the coiling shape of the Chinese character “壽,” which means “longevity.” Such imagery of pines, cypresses and peach trees became the representative subject matter for works meant to express the wish for a long life, and also became a staple in popular Ming and Qing dynasty paintings, crafts, and ornaments.

Chapter 3: Omens: The power bestowed by heaven

    People of the past believed that the heavens used natural phenomena to communicate with humanity through signs. Thus, natural transformations affecting trees came to be seen as auspicious signs relating to political affairs. For instance, when two trees with separate roots grew into one—these are called “gemels”—they were thought to symbolize that the sovereign of a nation was virtuous and had received heavenly approval.

    The flourishing or withering of particular trees was also believed to be intimately connected to the fate of a nation’s current ruling dynasty. For example, in Qufu in present day Shandong province, there is a Chinese juniper tree which, according to legend, Confucius personally planted. Its relative lushness or wiltedness, in addition to reflecting the prosperousness or decline of Confucian teachings, were also thought to predict whether the nation would thrive or fall into decadence. Similarly, in the mountains to which the Manchu people trace their origins was a mystical tree with eight species of branches growing from a single trunk. This hitherto unheard-of tree was seen as indicating that the Qing dynasty would be blessed and protected for thousands of years.

    Finally, the planting of trees was a crucial factor in the creation of imperial tombs. Trees are of great concern in fengshui, so they must be nurtured with great care so as to ensure that they are both lush and well pruned. The sacred trees in front of Qing dynasty emperors’ tombs were similarly believed to influence the empire’s fate, and were therefore treated with utmost care.

Chapter 4: Metaphors: States of human life

    In everyday life, trees’ shapes, colors, lushness, straightness or twistedness, and seasonal variations are all closely tied to people’s experiences and emotions. For this reason, trees have inspired countless artistic and literary creations. For instance, Yu Xin of the Northern and Southern dynasties wrote the heartrending poetic essay “Ballad of Trees,” which was then rendered in brush and ink during the Tang dynasty by calligrapher Chu Suiliang. Chu’s piece became a classic of both literature and calligraphy, one copied and studied by countless later generations.

    Additionally, the way in which pines and plum trees seem impervious to wind and snow has turned them into symbols of the character ideals aspired to by people of cultivation. These two tree species, along with bamboo, are collectively referred to as “the three wintry friends.” Ever since the Southern Song dynasty they have been an important subject in painting, and in the Ming and Qing dynasties they became a motif found in all genres of arts and crafts.

    Relatedly, numerous anecdotes about famous people in history use trees as a backdrop to accentuate their clean living and honest characters. One such story is about a Song dynasty poet recluse, Lin Bu, who planted plum trees and raised cranes; he never married or had children, and in time people came to say that the tree was his wife and the crane his offspring. Another story is about the eccentric Yuan dynasty painter, Ni Zan. Legend has it that he was obsessed with cleanliness and famous for asking his servants to wash the paulownia tree in the garden. Both tales served as inspiration for Ming and Qing dynasty artworks.

    Finally, trees were often used to express friendly sentiments and hopes when rulers and ministers exchanged gifts, when friends sent cuttings of trees to one another, as well as in celebrations of the coming of springtime. Occasions such as these were often recorded in works of art.

Bonus Chapter: Memories of sacred trees

    The custom of giving offerings to massive trees was our predecessors’ way of showing respect to nature. The way these enormous living beings represent abundant and powerful life force inspired many people to offer them respect and reverence. Taiwan has dashu gong (“tree gods”), whose origins lie in the folk belief that the centuries-old trees we encounter in our lives are capable of protecting the peace in towns and neighborhoods as well as helping children to grow up safely and healthily. For this reason, they became the recipients of ritual offerings and entered into the folk religious pantheon.

    Additionally, in the Japanese Shinto religion it is believed that giant trees are home to a type of spirit called kodama. During Taiwan’s period of colonization by Japan, Japanese settlers built railroads on Mt. Ali (Ali Shan) in order to exploit the natural resources there, especially timber. At the same time, they built a Shinto shrine on Mt. Ali and declared that the oldest trees were shinboku, a Japanese term meaning “sacred tree,” which is pronounced “shenmu in Mandarin. As tourism along Mt. Ali’s railways developed, the giant shenmu on the mountain became a major attraction, without which no postcard or tour group photo would be complete. Unfortunately, nothing is forever, and even Mt. Ali’s enormous shenmu—a 3,000-year-old cypress—fell during the late 1990s, its past grandeur becoming a fond memory. Nevertheless, the pulse of new life still thrives in Taiwan’s numerous alpine forests.
Exhibition Information
  • Event Date 2020-12-25~2021-06-20
  • Location 3F S304
Han dynasty, late 1st century BCE-early 1st century CE
Brown and green glazed Taodu tree
  • I. Sacred space: The border between the heavenly and human worlds
  • From the collection of National Museum of History
    In historical documents, there was a tall peach tree in Taodu Mountain (or Toushou Mountain) in the East China Sea. Its roots and branches extended to three thousand Chinese miles. There was a golden rooster on the tree, which sang in the sun. Under the tree, there were two deities “Yu” and “Lui” (some legends called them Shenshu and Yului), who used lassos made of reeds to catch evil spirits.
    This tree-shaped object has a bird standing on the top and human figures imprinted on the base. It recalls the image of the tree in Taodu Mountain described in historical documents. There are nine branches and leaves, divided into three levels, with monkeys and cicadas on them. On the base, there is the moon rabbit pounding with a mortar and pestle the elixir of life. All these animals are frequent images in tombs dated from Han. Also, the cicadas and the moon rabbit reflect the lore and mythology in Han: the former symbolizes a hope for rebirth and the latter is believed to be the messenger of the Queen Mother of the West. Similar objects were unearthed at tombs in Henan dated from the late Western Han dynasty and Wang Mang’s reign.
Swat, Pakistan, 8th-9th century
Seated Bodhisattva Maitreya
  • I. Sacred space: The border between the heavenly and human worlds
    In Buddhism, the major life events and the awakening of the saint often take place under a tree. For example, the Buddha was born in a garden beneath an ashoka tree. His awakening occurred under the Bodhi tree and his nirvana took place under twin sal trees. These trees became important in Buddhism and highly meaningful.

    Maitreya is said to be born 5.77 billion years after the Buddha’s nirvana. His awakening will take place under a Longhua Tree in the Hualin Garden of Chitou City. He will deliver his teaching here three times to all beings, hence the famous Longhua Ceremony. This statue of Maitreya sits in lotus position on a lotus stand, holding a branch of the tree and a kendi jug, both of which are important objects for Maitreya.
Shen Yuan, Qianlong reign (1736-1795), Qing dynasty
Pure Land of Sukhavati
  • I. Sacred space: The border between the heavenly and human worlds
  • On display from Dec. 25, 2020 to March 21, 2021
    According to Buddhist canons, in the pure land of Amitabha, or Sukhavati, there are gorgeous jeweled trees. Their branches, flowers, leaves, and fruits are made of seven kinds of jewels, such as gold, silver, and beryl, and they grow symmetrically. They are covered with colorful mantles and hung with glorious bead strings. When there is a breeze, the trees make a wonderful sound. Those who hear the sound become instinctively attuned to the teachings of the Buddha. Together with the singing of rare birds and the playing of heavenly music, the sound of the jeweled trees evokes a celestial realm of peace.
    Emperor Qianlong (r. 1736-1795) devoutly believed in the pure land of Amitabha. In his imperial court, he set up many places of worship and made generous offerings. He also asked the court painter Shen Yuan to paint Sukhāvatī referring to the work of Guanxui, a celebrated Buddhist monk and painter, whose greatest works date from the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. Shen's end result is a delicate masterpiece with a soft palette.
You Tong, Kangxi reign (1662-1722), Qing dynasty
Rhinoceros horn carved with depiction of figures seated atop a raft
  • I. Sacred space: The border between the heavenly and human worlds
    The body of this carved miniature raft features a hollow tree trunk. It was thought to be the vehicle to the realm of the divine. One can see waves under the raft; the figure on board is either a godly being or Zhang Qian. The depiction of Zhang Qian combines two source materials. The first is from historical documents, which recorded that the Emperor Wu of Han (r.141 BCE-87 BCE) ordered Zhang Qian to find the source of the Yellow River. The second is a legend in Bowuzhi (literally, “Records of Diverse Matters”) written in the Jin dynasty about how some people on the seaside took a raft, reached the river of heaven, and met Niulang (the cowherd, symbolizing the star Altair). The two events gradually merged, later becoming a story about how Zhang Qian took a raft to the river of heaven, meeting Zhinü (the weaver girl, symbolizing the star Vega) there, who gave him a stone that propped up her loom. Another version of the story can be found in the collection of Dunhuang Bianwen dated from Tang. Zhang Qian was sent to find the source of Mengjin River. The Queen Mother of the West stopped him, telling him that the river comes out from the rocky mountainside of Kunlun Mountain and he would never find the source. She gave him a stone that propped up a loom as evidence to the completion of his mission. Artists in Yuan and Ming often found inspiration from the story.
Anonymous, Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Springtime Feast Beside the Jade Pond, from the album "Myriad Ageless Years"
  • II. Longevity: An everlasting wish
  • On display from Dec. 25, 2020 to March 21, 2021
    The peach has been regarded as a divine tree that has power to defeat devils and dismiss evil spirits. In the Jin and the following Northern and Southern dynasties (220-589), many tales involving deities mention that the peach of immortality could prolong one's life. There are also vivid descriptions of how the Queen Mother of the West came down from heaven and invited Emperor Wu of Han to have several peaches of immortality. From mythology to literature, the Queen Mother's birthday banquet at her residence where all deities came to enjoy elixir and peaches is the most classic piece and the wonderful material for festivity and celebration.
    Instead of the usual host, the Queen Mother, the central figure of “Springtime Feast Beside the Jade Pond” is a noble elder whose birthday is being celebrated. The colophon above the painting indicates that this album, a collection of various auspicious motifs, was dedicated to the emperor’s birthday.
Jiajing reign (1522-1566), Ming dynasty
Dish with tree decoration in the shape of “shou” (longevity) character in green on the yellow ground
  • II. Longevity: An everlasting wish
    During the reigns of the Jiajing and Wanli Emperors in the mid to late-Ming dynasty, a visually pleasing pattern started to be used on ceramics. It depicts a tree trunk with twisted and contorted branches that evoke the coiling shape of the Chinese characters 福 (fu, “good fortune”) and 壽 (shou, “longevity”). Often the trees are pine, peach, or bamboo, symbols of longevity. Sometimes the tree is paired with the divine peach and lingzhi mushroom, both said to lengthen one’s years. The combination of Chinese characters and auspicious symbols may bless far more abundantly.
Qing dynasty, 18th century
Opaque amber miniature mountain featuring the symbols of longevity, pine trees and deer
  • II. Longevity: An everlasting wish
    The combination of the pine tree and the fairy deer, both symbolizing longevity and auspiciousness, is a popular motif in Qing dynasty art and a beloved image for birthday celebration. Pine trees and deer together with spring water and white cranes also evoke a sense of paradise on earth. This miniature mountain is meant to be played with. By slowly rotating it, one appreciates it from different angles. Like another world into which one can escape, this artwork both fulfills the secular wish for longevity and delights the connoisseur’s taste for style.
Anonymous, 171
Stone rubbing from the carving next to “Li Xi Stele” (the Western Pass Ode)
  • III. Omens: The power bestowed by heaven
  • On display from Dec. 25, 2020 to March 21, 2021
    This stone rubbing from the carving next to the “Li Xi Stele” depicts five auspicious signs that manifested when Li Xi was prefect of Wudu. In ancient times, people believed that rare natural phenomena were messages from heaven. If the world was governed by a kind and sagacious ruler, all kinds of rare signs of good fortune would appear in nature: inosculation, for example, where two different trees with separate roots grow together, their branches entwined, was considered a sign of good fortune. Trees dropping sweet nectar, a taste of which was believed to prolong one’s life, is another such natural phenomenon perceived as auspicious.
Hongwu (1743-1811), 1776
Auspicious Pine Trees Ten Thousand Years of Age
  • III. Omens: The power bestowed by heaven
  • On display from Dec. 25, 2020 to March 21, 2021
    This painting by Hongwu (1743-1811), cousin to the Qianlong Emperor, depicts a sturdy pine in front of the tomb of their great grandfather the Shunzi Emperor. The tree’s canopy is so large that it needs to be supported by red columns. Underneath are lingzhi mushrooms and flowers. The painting shows elegance in its brushstrokes and color scheme and conveys a secure and festive atmosphere.
    The painting was completed in 1776, at the time of the victory of the second Jinchuan campaign, and was sent in congratulation and praise of the dynasty’s prosperity. Hongwu also wrote in the colophon that the pine tree was a symbol of heavenly protection and the dynasty’s long reign.
Presented in accordion-folded form by Princely Emissary Ji Pu and others on the twenty-third day of the ninth lunar month of the second year of the Tongzhi reign (1863)
Memorial to the inspection of the completion of the primary tasks to revive the sacred tree at the imperial tombs, accompanied with an illustration of the measures taken to protect the tree
  • III. Omens: The power bestowed by heaven
  • On display from Dec. 25, 2020 to March 21, 2021
    The Yongling Tomb belongs to the ancestors of Nurhaci (1559-1626), founding father of the Qing dynasty, and was regarded as the origin of the Qing Empire. In front of the tomb was a large elm designated a sacred tree by the Qianlong Emperor. However, in the second year of the Tongzhi Emperor’s reign(1863), it was blown over in a storm and crushed a hall. As the tree was crucial to the dynasty’s fengshui, this immediately became an issue of national security. The news was promptly delivered to Beijing, where both the empress dowager and the emperor were greatly concerned. Ministers, generals, officials and specialists were all urgently mobilized to revive the sacred tree. The whole process is recorded in detail in palace memorials and files, from the tree’s collapse, through the numerous efforts to bring it erect, and to the tree’s eventually rebudding.
Qianlong reign (1736-1795), Qing dynasty
Illustration of Palace Grounds, from On Ritual offerings to Gods and the Heavens in Manchuria, written on imperial orders by Yun Lu, et al., booklet six, the Pavilion of Literary Profundity's handwritten "Complete Library in Four Sections" edition
  • III. Omens: The power bestowed by heaven
  • On display from Dec. 25, 2020 to March 21, 2021
    According to Manchu myth, their ancestors not only once hid under a tree full of crows and magpies and escaped the pursuit. The worship of the “god’s pole” emerged as a way to commemorate the tree and the birds, and it evolved into a ritual during which people prayed for the prosperity of family and nation. Every spring and autumn in the imperial court, a ceremony would be held to erect the pole. According to the imperial booklets compiled by the Qianlong Emperor, all halls in the court would set up their own god’s poles. The pole used in the ceremonies was a pine tree cut from a virgin mountain forest and trimmed until only nine leafy branches remained.
Kangxi reign (1661-1722), Qing dynasty
Ink stone and box carved from Songhua stone with "three friends of winter" (pine, bamboo, and plum) motif
  • IV. Metaphors: States of human life
    "When all flowers wither, only pines, bamboos, and plums remain." Pine trees are evergreen; plums blossom in late winter, bamboos do not wither. Together, they are referred to as the "three wintry friends." A beloved motif among the literati, they symbolize the steadfastness, perseverance, and resilience in the scholar-gentleman's ideal. The motif was used in paintings as early as the Southern Song dynasty, during the Ming and Qing dynasties, it became widely applied to various objects, stationery and utensils of a study. One example is the motif on the lid of the ink stone dated from the Kangxi reign. The stone's purple and green are ingeniously employed by artisans to allow the pine, the plum, and the bamboo to stand as if upright in the night. It conjures up a space of cold clarity with a faint fragrance and shows the three plants as full of vitality.
Qianlong reign (1736-1795), Qing Dynasty
Tapestry-Embroidery of Nine Goats Opening the New Year
  • IV. Metaphors: States of human life
  • On display from Dec. 25, 2020 to March 21, 2021
    Spring is the beginning of a year, and flowering trees always take the lead to convey to us the news of spring. Pine, bamboo, and plum, known as the “three wintry friends,” alongside the blooming camellia, are all auspicious plants announcing the arrival of spring. This bright and colorful scroll used to be hung in the Qing court to celebrate the coming of a new year, featuring various techniques of tapestry, embroidery and painting.
   The scroll depicts three princes in their exquisite finery and nine goats in different poses roaming on the river bank. They are surrounded by auspicious clouds, a giant pine, old plum trees, camellias, and bamboos among the rocks. One of the princes holds an extensive plum branch, on top of which hangs a cage with a magpie in it. This creates a homophonic pun to suggest brimming joy. The princes and the nine goats also have their homophonous meanings, symbolizing the hexagram Tai (“pervading” in the I Ching) which denotes January of the lunar calendar. This suggests the fading of Yin and the growth of Yang, expecting that spring will soon start the renewal of all beings on earth. It also sends out a wish for spring to come in eighty-one days (nine times nine) after the winter solstice.
Qian Gu (1508-1578), Ming dynasty
Cleaning the Paulownias
  • IV. Metaphors: States of human life
  • On display from Dec. 25, 2020 to March 21, 2021
    Qian Gu (1508–1578) was known for his elegant style. This painting has a mellow color scheme and clean outlines. The rock formed by the heavy ink stroke contrast beautifully with the lighter paulownia tree. The title “Cleaning the Paulownias” alludes to the story of Ni Zan (1301-1374). The celebrated Yuan dynasty painter Ni Zan was renowned for his unique temperament and obsession with cleanliness. Novels in Ming recorded various anecdotes about him, including his request to his servant to wash the paulownia tree in the garden. Tree-washing thus became a symbol of purity for the Chinese literati.
Chen Hongshou (1599-1652), 1622
Painted Peach Flowers
  • IV. Metaphors: States of human life
  • On display from Dec. 25, 2020 to March 21, 2021
    This is an early work by Chen Hongshou (1599–1652), a late Ming master painter of the “transformational” style. It features the branch of peach blossoms tied with a sash. The brushwork and coloring are delicate and beautiful, both vivid and natural. From the artist’s inscription we learn that this painted fan was presented as a gift to a friend who was leaving to take office in Wuling. It playfully quotes Tao Yuanming’s “The Peach Blossom Spring.” It also mischievously alludes to Su Shi’s description of how Wang Jiong met the immortal Zhou Yaoying and visited the city of Furong.
Issued by the Okubo Department Store, Japanese reign (1895-1945)
Conjoined Banyan Trees growing on Penghu Island
  • Bonus Chapter: Memories of sacred trees
  • From the collection of the National Museum of Taiwan History
    Taiwanese people believe that “when a tree is big, there is a deity.” As long as it is an old tree that is more than a hundred years old or has a giant girth, people often hold it in awe. Whether people think of the old tree as a deity, or regard it as a deity’s dwelling place, the tree is often tied with red ribbons, or accompanied by incense burners or small temples for worship. For example, the famous ancient Tongliang banyan tree in front of Baoan Temple in Baisha Township, Penghu, is said to be a tree sapling that floated from the sea in the early Qing dynasty. After being planted in front of the temple, the whole tree now almost envelops the temple and becomes a marvelous sight in Penghu where vegetation is not easy to grow. During the Japanese rule, the tree was printed on postcards. Today, the staff at the temple has tied a red silk around the tree trunk and considered it a god of wealth.
The Sacred Tree at Alishan
  • Bonus Chapter: Memories of sacred trees
  • From the collection of the National Museum of Taiwan History
    During their rule of Taiwan, the Japanese built a forest railway in order to make the most use of the rich resources of Alishan. The famous Alishan sacred tree was discovered by a Japanese technician, surnamed Ogasawara, who was investigating
the forest resources of Alishan at that time. It was a red cypress about three thousand years old. Practitioners of Shinto in Japan worship giant trees, boulders, and even mountains and forests. The tallest tree in an area is often regarded as a sacred tree, which is perceived as either an incarnation of the divine or a place where deities dwell. The trunk of such a tree is usually tied with Shimenawa, a rope used for ritual purification, to mark the realm of the divine.
    In 1920, the ninth year of the Taisho period, the Alishan Railway was opened to passengers and rail holidays became popular. The stunning tree became a must-visit attraction. At the time, postcards often featured the tree, its girth marked as 64 Taiwanese feet, accompanied by a steam train waiting for passengers to aboard.