The Wu Family Ancestral Homestead／大寮區潮寮與吳家古厝
The Wu Family Ancestral Homestead
◎English translation: Peng Hsin-yi
◎Photo by Jhou Shu-jheng
The Wu Family Ancestral Homestead is located on Jiankang Street. In order to get to it, one must drive down Jianye Road, through Dafa Industrial Park and then make a right on to Heti Road. It is located in the neighborhood on the right hand side of the Chaoliao Community. The homestead is a traditional single level home with an eye-catching, landscape mural on its back wall. It can also be identified by a wooden tablet hanging on the garden entrance with "Wu Family Ancestral Homestead" carved in traditional Chinese characters on it.
Wu Family Ancestral Homestead is typical of Minnan architecture that originated in Southern Fujian Province, China. The property actually consists of two three-section compounds, which were built side by side. This was because in 1936, the Wu family decided to separate their households. The oldest son, Wu Fa-ming then moved into the front compound, with his younger brother Wu Gong, the family's third son, living in the back. This reflects Chinese family tradition, where living quarters are determined by age and subsequent seniority. The two brothers built the two compounds themselves and gave the living quarters a unique design. These included a mosaic on the roof, decorative installations along the eaves trough and delicate carvings along the wooden windows.
The two brothers were also of different faiths and therefore the designs of their compounds reflected this. The older brother was Taoist, whereas the third brother was Christian. In Wu Gong's home hanging from a beam in the main hall was a wooden slab, carved with the phrase "God is Kindness, God is Love". There were also Christian couplets hanging on both sides of the door and a poster depicting the origins of Christianity.
In 2010, the Wu Family Ancestral Homestead was remodeled and became part of a cultural park that was opened to the public. The movie Wonderful Wedding featuring famous Taiwanese comedian Sie You-jhen, aka "Jhu Ge Liang" was also shot there. Many movie posters and memorabilia have been hung inside the homestead. The movie certainly brought great honor to the neighborhood.
Another ancestral homestead that was pointed out by some local elders was A-Cai's home which was located a few alleyways away. Other elders however, thought it couldn't be considered an ancestral homestead as A-Cai's home wasn't even 60 years old. A rather colorful, loud but friendly debate ensued. The neighborhood really seemed to reflect the street names Jiankang (Healthy) Street and Happy Road. People clearly interacted in happy and healthy ways. The Wu and A-Cai families must have certainly grown up in a wonderful neighborhood, surrounded by people that were kind, interesting and seemed to enjoy prosperous lives.