TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - A life-sized lantern sculpture of a girl with black, hollow eyes slowly rocking in a swing is generating buzz on social media in Taiwan for its creepy look that resembles "the little girl in red," a 19-year-old unsolved local mystery.
The Lantern Festival, also known as the Yuan Xiao Festival (元宵節), is celebrated on the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar, marking the end of Lunar New Year.
The frightening life-size lantern sculpture is on display at the Kaohsiung Lantern Festival between January 30 and February 12 on the banks of the Love River in Kaohsiung. An exhibition of this kind traditionally showcases lantern artworks with joyful and auspicious elements. The Yuan Xiao lantern makers usually model figures from Chinese mythology such as Sun Wukong(孫悟空), also known as the Monkey King, from The Journey to The West, and Taoist deities such as Pa-hsien (八仙), also known as the Eight Immortals.
Auspicious symbols of Buddhism are often incorporated into the Yuan Xiao lantern artworks such as the lotus flower, which represents the true nature of beings and wisdom, and goldfish, which represent good fortune. The peach, which stands for longevity, is a must-have element used in the festival. The colors red and gold, signifying happiness and wealth respectively, are generously applied to the Yuan Xiao lantern sculptures.
In a post on the Facebook group Breaking News Commune (爆料公社) on Thursday, a netizen shared a 10-second video clip which shows a life-size lantern sculpture of a girl in red with pale skin and dark, sunken eyes swaying in a swing decorated with spooky blue lights. The footage has quickly attracted attention from netizens and online media for its unusual creepy appearance. Several netizens joked that the artwork is misplaced and should be instead showcased at the Chinese Zhongyuan Festival (中原節), or the Hungry Ghost Festival, in the seventh month of the lunar calendar.
Netizens quickly associated it with horror movie characters such as The Tag-Along (The Little Girl in Red) and Annabelle. The little girl in red is a famous urban legend in Taiwan that has circulated for many years and was even adapted to the big screen in 2015 and 2017. In 1998, a family went hiking in the mountains around Taichung and made a home video to document the trip. After they returned home to watch the footage, they noticed the image of what appeared to be a creepy-looking little girl in a red dress following them as they hiked along a mountain trail.
The family was further horrified as they found a male family member, who passed away suddenly from a heart attack shortly after the hiking trip, appearing in the footage with fangs in his mouth, leading the family to send the clip to the then-paranormal reality TV show to call for expert help. In later years, several other people claimed they spotted the little girl in red roaming in the mountains, and the mystery of the identity of this girl and the cause of this phenomenon has remained unsolved until today.
Image courtesy of Breaking News Commune (爆料公社)