Rediscover the myth of Mazu through Art and Storytelling

The Legend of Mazu graphic novel (1)

Mazu, the Chinese goddess of the sea, is most commonly recognised in religious spheres and schools of thought, sanctioned and worshipped as a deity in several different faiths, such as Buddhism and Taoism. Yet, her elaborate journey from childhood to immortality offers insight and realism into the history and culture of coastal life in ancient China.

In The Legend of Mazu, a graphic novel, Singaporean artist Chin Tong Koh chronicles an archive of anthologies about ancient Chinese folklore and myths of Mazu. Through the power of visual and literary narrative, The Legend of Mazu presents tales of Mazu’s life and origins. Paying homage to the goddess as a cultural and historic figure, the book tells the story of Lin Mo, a mortal girl born in Meizhou Island in Putian District, China, who displayed unrivalled intelligence for the classics and compassion for her villagers from a young age. Gaining various extraordinary abilities and spiritual powers throughout her life, she sought to protect her people from natural disasters and evil demons, leading to her ascent into immortality and earning her the name Mazu.

The artist, Chin Tong Koh, working on illustrations for The Legend of Mazu

Koh’s artwork in The Legend of Mazu is unprecedented and highly distinct. His skillful use of traditional Chinese Bai-Miao style black-and-white line drawing is a reflection of his expertise in classical Chinese art styles. His artistic mastery, self-cultivated over decades, is echoed in his use of finely-controlled yet organic linework in the intricate illustrations that pay tribute to the goddess’s grandeur and prestige. Every page is a work of art. Each piece of Koh’s drawings encompasses its own compelling narrative, bringing a touch of lifelikeness to mythology.

With the retelling of a classic that is widely-known in Asian culture, Koh had to ensure that his representation of the goddess was sufficiently comprehensive and accurate to historical records, while at the same time conveying her narrative in a universal manner for audiences of all backgrounds and cultures to relate to. This required a significant period of intensive study of classical Chinese history and folklore on his part. The result is a fantastical and enchanting work of art and conservation piece on the goddess of the sea.

The Legend of Mazu graphic novel is available for purchase and international shipping on the Asiapac Books webstore.

Established in 1983, Asiapac Books is Singapore’s leading independent publisher of comics and illustrated books designed to enhance lifelong learning.

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