Shen Guang-wen

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Shen Guang-wen
Native name 沈光文
Born 1612
Zhejiang, Ming
Died 1688
Tainan, Fujian, Qing
Nationality Ming
Kingdom of Tungning
Occupation Writer, educator
Known for the founder of Taiwanese literature
Predecessor Zhang Yan-bin

Shen Guang-wen (Chinese: 沈光文; pinyin: Chén Guāngwén; 1612–1688), whose other names are Wenkai (文開) and Sian (斯庵), was a scholar, poet, educator and the founder of Taiwanese literature.[1] He is considered as such, despite having been born in Zhejiang in mainland China, the Qing conquest of Ming forced him to move to Taiwan in 1652. After that, he devoted the rest of his life mainly to enlightening inhabitants in modern-day Tainan until he died in 1688. Significantly, this was the very first opportunity for local people[who?] to learn Han Chinese culture. As such, the achievement of Shen Guang-wen was a crucial foundation in the development of education and culture in Taiwanese history. As a result, people show their respect for him by giving him another name Taiwanese Confucius.

Personal history

Before Shen Guang-wen moved to Taiwan, he was a scholar of the Confucian tradition. More specifically, he was a student of Zhang Yan-bin (张延宾) in mainland China. On that fact, he studied a number of ancient Chinese texts, such as Shijing and Shujing and others.[1] This seemed to be his vital background to contribute in education and culture in Taiwan. In 1652, he unintentionally arrived in Taiwan when Taiwan was ruled by Dutch. Importantly, this was a full decade before Koxinga arrived in Taiwan. Shen Guang-wen was one of the mainlanders who escaped to Taiwan, as the Manchu took the imperial capital to rule Southward in mainland China.[2] In fact, Shen Guang-wen traveled in the Southeastern area of the mainland between 1645 and 1651. Eventually he moved to Tainan after staying approximately for one year in Yilan, Taiwan.


As the founder of Taiwanese literature

Since Shen Guang-wen settled down in Taiwan, he started to play an important role as an educator. He, for instance, taught Han Chinese culture to local people in terms of writing and reading.[3] Indeed, he had a very strong support from Koxinga at that time from 1665 to 1674, as Koxinga treated him as a very important person for his political purpose by providing a land and a house. Subsequently, Shen Guang-wen was one of the people who were devoted to establishing the Koxinga regime as an educator in Taiwanese history.[1] However, the situation had changed after Zheng Jing (simplified Chinese: 郑经; traditional Chinese: 鄭經), who was the son of Koxinga, started to rule Taiwan. As Shen Gunag-wen disapproved of Zheng Jing’s policies, he needed to flee to Shanhua (善化). Even though he did not have some support as he had like in the past, he continued to teach Chinese literature and medicine in Shanhua.[4]

As a poet

Shen Guang-wen himself was not only an educator and scholar, but was also a poet. He belonged to the first generation of poets in Taiwanese traditional literature history. This period has important meaning in Taiwanese literary history, as it was the very first time the traditional Han literature was introduced to Taiwanese people, after Koxinga started to rule Taiwan. He completed a considerable number of works, such as Wenkaiwenji (文开文集), Liuwukao (流寓考), Caoshuzaji (草木杂纪), Taiwanfu (台湾赋), Taiwanyu tukao (台湾舆图考) and others. Additionally, he also established a poetry party called Dongning Shishe (东呤诗社), when Qing dynasty started to rule Taiwan in 1683.[5]

Influence and legacy

According to the Taiwanese history, the reputation of Shen Guang-wen was distinctively underscored by regarding him as the founder of Taiwanese literature. As a result, the noticeable influence can be distinguished in many remains so far. Wenkai (文开) academy, for instance, was named Shen Gunag-wen’s other name in order to honor his contribution during the Dutch occupation of Taiwan. This academy not only collected books and provided a place where candidates could study for the local civil service examination but also employed contemporary scholars to encourage their studies.[6] Subsequently, Wenkai academy symbolises the huge contribution of Shen Guang-wen in terms of proliferation of literacy in Taiwanese history.

Memorial places

In addition, there are a few more places where Shen, Guang-wen’s achievements can be remembered at present. Most significant of all, Qingan (庆安) temple in Shanhua is one of the memorial places of Shen Guang-wen.[7] In fact, this Qingan temple is a third-grade national relic which has about 300 years of history in Taiwan, but unfortunately the original structure of Qingan temple can not be seen nowadays. Initially, Qingan temple was a language school which was built by the Dutch East India Company. However, this school was converted into a shrine for Wenchang Dijun (文昌帝君) who is the god of education, and after that Qingan temple was built on this shrine. In particular, on the second floor, there is an icon of Shen Guang-wen as the sixth facet of Wenchang Dijun owing to his educational contribution in the exhibition room. Moreover, there is some background information displayed in relation to him. As other memorial places of Shen Guang-wen in Shanhua, there are Shen Guang-wen memorial at Zhongshan road, Guang-wen road and Guang-wen building at Shanhua junior high school.[2]


The noticeable contribution of Shen Guang-wen should be emphasised as an educational and cultural aspect to local people, as this significantly influenced to the development of civilisation in Taiwanese history. Furthermore, his achievements in the literary arena should be recognised, as he was the first generation of traditional literature in Taiwanese history.


  1. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-04-18. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Calligraphy in Taiwan
  4. ^ Lin, Heng-dao 2003, Taiwan Yibaiwei Mingren chuan, Taibeixianxindianshi, pp. 5-7.
  5. ^[permanent dead link]
  6. ^
  7. ^,608186893


  • Taiwan lishi renwu xiaochuan,Guojia Tushuguan, 2003.
  • Gong,Xian-zong,Shen Guang-wen de shengpingshiji yu wenjiao gongxian, Lishiyuekan, Vol.141, 1999.
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