Mazu exhibition showcases Taiwan’s cultural traditions

Exhibition on one of Taiwan’s most revered deities—Mazu, goddess of the sea—is set to open Aug. 9

GACC Deputy Secretary-General Chang Tieh-chih introduces an exhibition on the Mazu belief and customs Aug. 7 in Taipei City. (Courtesy of GACC)

An exhibition on one of Taiwan’s most revered deities—Mazu, goddess of the sea—is set to open Aug. 9 in Taipei City as part of government efforts promoting greater awareness of local cultural and religious traditions linking ethnic Chinese communities throughout Southeast Asia.
 
Organized by Taipei-based General Association of Chinese Culture, the event runs until Oct. 10 at GACC headquarters. It comprises five sections: tales of the sea goddess, origin and development of the religion, different customs across Asia, rituals related to Taiwan’s Mazu beliefs and the country’s annual pilgrimages.
 
GACC Vice President Chiang Chun-nan said the Mazu belief and customs can be tracked to Chinese migration to countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. The exhibition seeks to shed light on this movement and the resultant deep cultural links between Taiwan and these communities, he said.
 
Chang Tieh-chih, deputy secretary-general of the GACC, echoed these remarks, adding that the association is presenting Mazu at the exhibition using the latest high-tech approaches so as to better appeal to the younger generations. Some of these include animations, graphics, interactive displays and projections.
 
“Culture has no borders,” Chang said. “This applies not only to the traditions of Mazu, but is one of the guiding principles of the GACC,” he added.
 
The Mazu ritual originates among fishermen in the coastal provinces of mainland China and took root in Taiwan in the 1730s. The deity is enshrined at 510 temples around the island, and in 2009 the Mazu belief and customs were included on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
 
GACC, which is headed by President Tsai Ing-wen, has worked since its establishment in 1967 to support the deepening of Taiwan culture, foster cultural exchanges with other countries and territories, and facilitate the development of local cultural and creative industries.