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Photo of the Day: Virgin Mary with Indigenous Taiwanese tattoos

Statue of Virgin Mary seen in Wulai with traditional Atayal female facial tattoos

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Statue of Virgin Mary at Catholic Sanctuary of our Lady of Fatima in Wulai. (Mason Maas photo)

Statue of Virgin Mary at Catholic Sanctuary of our Lady of Fatima in Wulai. (Mason Maas photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A photo of a church in New Taipei City has become popular on social media for showing a fusion of Western and Taiwanese cultures in a statue with indigenous tattoos.

Mason Maas (曹梅森), an American English teacher and Chinese/English translator, told Taiwan News that he captured the photo with his Samsung Galaxy S20+ while visiting New Taipei's Wulai District on Jan. 19. He said that while he was walking along Wulai Old Street, he spotted the Catholic Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima church.

When he took a closer look, he noticed that the statue of the Virgin Mary had traditional Atayal facial tattoos on her cheeks.

Among older generations, women of the tribe had to master weaving before they could receive a tattoo and be considered an adult. Men were expected to capture the head of at least one member of an enemy tribe to earn the right to receive their distinctive tattoo and thus achieve manhood.

Maas, who has lived in Taiwan for three years, said he is interested in Taiwanese culture, including the cultures of Indigenous peoples, "so when I saw such an interesting mix of western and Taiwanese culture I had to take a picture." On Tuesday (Jan. 25), Maas posted the photo on the social media site Reddit, where it quickly gained 420 upvotes.

Photo of the Day: Virgin Mary with Indigenous Taiwanese tattoos
Entrance to Catholic Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima in Wulai. (Mason Mass photo)