Peace sign=photo sign, since when?

Although this may have been discussed elsewhere and in earlier threads, I am seeking the most current scholarship on a deep and profound issue of Taiwanese culture, one which I am often asked by visiting scholars (really, no fooling).

The question is…why do the Taiwanese flash the peace sign whenever it is photo time? Now I realize asking “why” will get involved in either deep or mundane answers (e.g. “who knows what darkness lies in the hearts of men, whom can judge their motives or the reasons for their actions”, or on the other extreme, “they do it because they see other people do it plus it is just a nervous habit”).

Let me ask a related historical question; how long has the peace-photo sign been part of Taiwanese photo taking. One scholar asked me if the American soldiers during Vietnam had somehow introduced the peace sign into Taiwan and somehow it became equated with “being cool” and then somehow became the nervous habit of choice when having your pic taken.

Any insights are appreciated.
Dr. Brian
Doctor of Taiwanculturalogy

Actually, I have seen a serious piece on this somewhere, sorry, can’t recall where. It’s not limited to Taiwan, but is broadly speaking an Asian phenomenon that pre-dates Vietnam. Possibly I saw it referenced to Japan.


I heard that after ww2 an American pilot landed in Japan and made the peace sign, was photographed and the Japanese adopted it for all photos and then i guess because of the Taiwanese thinking that Japan is cool took it for their use as well.

Could be, but not mentioned here. Wiki is your friend, or maybe not!

But I have pics of my father with a table full of drunken Chinese revellers all flashing a V sign made from chopsticks taken in Penang in the mid sixties. I thought this was a parody of the v sign from back then. i’d go with the explanation of one plus one equals two in the explanation below. Now if you mix that with StuartCa’s pilot sign, it taps an exisiting trend in Japan.


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Super, thanks folks. I didn’t know it was an Asian-wide deal, nor did I realize that what I thought was a local and recent habit had actually drawn the interest of scholars and Wiki-ites.

All the explanations are interesting.

take care,
Brian One Plus One is Peace

so that one is explained…

now only the ‘Happy sign under the chin’…the bulging ‘i think I look cute when I puff up my cheeks’ and the ‘stick my finger into my cheek’ needs to be explained…

You mean the L shape under the chin? Wasn’t that a James Bond thing, or at least the way a thousand creepy local male models interpreted a James Bond pose? Think the local version of Zoolander’s Magnum.

Exhibit A. The Bond pose.


I always took this to be the “V for Victory” (as opposed to Vendetta) sign rather than for peace. Which fits with its occurrence in anime as many of the more cheeky characters flash the sign after accomplishing something.

In photography I would say this translates into “Yeah!” rather than “Peace!”.

There was a hilarious video about how and why Asians posed for photos with cute V’s and all that, posted quite recently,but I can’t find it. Can anyone help?

I did a quick search in Google Scholar and couldn’t find much. Wikipedia says that

But I also found this in Google books.


It would be interesting to find out how it got into Asia - via American servicemen, probably. It would be cool to find some ‘historically important’ peace signs. :laughing:

You mean this one? It’s a scream! Thanks to A-ha for the laughter!

That’s it! Many thanks. BTW, we’re north coast neighbors, so maybe we should have a beer sometime. Then we can do some really cool poses, take some pics, and post them on Forumosa! Yeees!

It is because the Japanese deemed in Kawai’i, and like sheep to anything cute the Taiwan decided to start doing it too.

Brian…dude…drink more…really…it helps put silly shit like this in perspective.

I’m available for consultation…rates are reasonable.

Why was this edited/ bumped?

For a second there I thought that was the Brian Kennedy who passed this year. That would have made it slightly macabre…

I fixed the quotes. I don’t know how to do that without it bumping up the topic*.

I was fixing a link on Wikipedia that directed here and I figured I should clean up the formatting now that the link works

*@tempogain has shown me what I should have done to avoid the bump. I will be more careful going forward

Well, there has been a change in this area: people no longer flash the peace sign. A heart sign made by joining the thumb and index finger, or two hands to form a heart, is the fashionable thing to do now.