Taiwan – Bombing Master Handan

Firecrackers Explode Around Throne - Bombing Master Handan Hualien

My first trip to Taiwan was an absolute rollercoaster. The visit only got finalised a few days before departure so the preparation was a whirlwind of planning and research about the subjects I would meet for Tattoos of Asia. My good friend, Marco Tessiore would be joining me for this journey and creating a beautiful film about our time there.

It wasn’t until we landed in Taipei that the weather report confirmed that Typhoon Meranti would be hammering the island for our entire visit. We only had a few days though, so that wasn’t going to stop us. After a full day of shooting and torrential downpours in Hualien County, we stopped in Hualien City for the night to rest. The rain had eased and we were considering getting some dinner when our guesthouse owner suggested we head out to see a local festival (he didn’t tell us what). We were exhausted from the day’s shooting and almost didn’t go. Thankfully, we pushed ourselves for another short while.

Bombing Master Handan is a festival in which brave volunteers take on the role of Master Handan’s earthly vessel and have firecrackers thrown at them repeatedly to keep the master warm in his heavenly abode. The volunteers stand on a bamboo throne and are paraded around shirtless has they are relentlessly bombarded with firecrackers by the crowd. We managed to catch the last couple of volunteers as they did a loop around the intersection and the night’s festivities wound to a close.

Participant Waits Smoking - Bombing Master Handan

Bombing Master Handan Portrait

Tattoos - Bombing Master Handan

Group Portrait at Bombing Master Handan

Firecrackers Explode Around Throne - Bombing Master Handan Hualien

Explosions - Bombing Master Handan

Explosions - Bombing Master Handan

Participants - Bombing Master Handan

Remains of Firecrackers - Bombing Master Handan

Fresh Firecrackers are Lit - Bombing Master Handan

Smoke and FIre - Bombing Master Handan

Explosions - Bombing Master Handan

Safety - Bombing Master Handan

Turn Away - Bombing Master Handan

Brave Participant - Bombing Master Handan

Attire - Bombing Master Handan

Eyes - Bombing Master Handan

Ordinance - Bombing Master Handan

Clean up - Bombing Master Handan