2023

Taiwan Bookstore
Tan-Tsiu-Niu

About the Program

In Taiwanese folklore, there are many terrifying female ghosts. One of them is Tan-Tsiu-Niu. After her husband’s death, Tan-Tsiu-Niu faced harassment from government officials and mistreatment from her mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Eventually, domestic violence claimed her life. This incident sparked protests from local residents, and Shou-niang’s spirit transformed into a vengeful female ghost. If you visit the Confucius Temple in Tainan today, you can still see Tan-Tsiu-Niu’s memorial tablet, commemorating her indomitable spirit while she was alive.

This century-old folk story has been rediscovered by comic artist Nownow and adapted into a manhua, focusing on the plight of Taiwanese women during the Qing Dynasty. Female infants were abandoned, killed, or sold into slavery because of their gender. Girls were forced to bind their feet from a young age, stunting their ability to walk, in order to conform to the aesthetic and moral standards of the patriarchal society. Once married, women were expected to strive for male offspring, as giving birth to a son was considered their only purpose.

Through this manhua, we invite you to think about why female ghosts always evoke a sense of horror. Is it that the more terrifying female ghosts are, the more terrifying the societal oppression and injustice towards women is?

Nownow Senpai
Author Background

“Why bother living if ghosts are so powerful?” Nownow Senpai once said in an interview.

In high school and university, she focused on studying art, and became a comic artist after graduating. Nownow Senpai does not centre her works around heroes, nor does she want to provide answers. Instead of portraying the female ghost as a superwoman saving humanity from suffering, she emphasizes how living individuals confront their own lives. Although her pen name, Nownow Senpai, sounds like “coward” in Mandarin, she proves otherwise with her creativity. By highlighting the absurdity of the world through carefully drawn images, she sparks discussions among readers about various societal issues.

From the Curating Team

Harassment rooted in bureaucracy and social values subtly infiltrates women's lives, urging them to prioritize the collective or accept "cultural traditions." Works like The Handmaid’s Tale and Tan-Tsiu-Niu highlight ongoing gender oppression. This year's Taiwan Bookstore focuses on "women," "history," and "reflection," inspired by the #MeToo movement and explores gender-based violence and marginalized women's stories. How can we create change for our daughters?

工作區域 1@0.5x-100

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TAIWANfest Vancouver is grateful to be held on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation). We acknowledge our privilege to be gathered here, and commit to work with and be respectful to the Indigenous peoples of this land while we engage in meaningful conversations of culture and reconciliation.

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