Asian Ethnology 82-1 | article The Malevolent Icon Lantern Incident Early Twenty-First Century Transformations of the Image of the Goddess Mazu in Taiwan

Teri Silvio

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Taiwan Chinese folk religion Mazu manga Wei Tsung-Cheng

During the 2017 Taipei City Lantern Festival, a twenty-foot-tall lantern of Moniang, a character from Taiwanese artist Wei Tsung-cheng’s manga series Apocalypse of Darkness Warfare, was inaugurated and put on parade. Moniang represents a new image of the goddess Mazu, incarnated as a cute-sexy high school student. This article examines how this display allowed a new image of Mazu to move from the subculture of “male-oriented” manga creators and fans into a broader public sphere. Debates over the lantern reveal a gap in both generational and political leanings in terms of ideas about the relationship between deities and worshippers. The display of Moniang has opened up the possibility for the younger generation’s reconceptualization of divinity to challenge some of the traditional images and rituals at the core of Chinese folk religion.