Leigongma, Hainan’s New Logo

What do you about this guy? Yes, it is a calotes versicolor, a lizard with a rough skin, four short legs and a long tail.

But recently this cold-blooded animal became the new symbol of Hainanese as LEI GONG MA: a local Hainan dialect for calotes versicolor.
But why? Here is the story.

During the Covid-19 epidemic outbreak in Sanya from August 1, most tourists got strained on Hainan Island due to the Chinese government’s 0- Tolerance policy.  Some of them blamed the problem on the local Hainanese: If it weren’t for our visits to Hainan, you Hainanese would still go to the mountains to cut trees. They meant Hainan was still underdeveloped and depending on tourism for local economy.

The local Hainanese didn’t get angry by the insult, but replied: YES, we did ride LEI GONG MA to the mountains to tap rubber trees.

In the early eighties, the locals rode Jialing CJ50 motorcycles for rubber tapping (Jialing is a motorcycle brand manufactured in Chongqing by a joint venture with Honda).  As the red head of the motorcycle looked like a male Calotes versicolor’s head in breeding season, so the locals nicknamed this motorcycle as LEI GONG MA雷公马.

Wu Kaiqing, an illustrator from Chengmai, Hainan, published the leigongma cartoon during this period and became a surprise success. Wu said he had been working on this cartoon for 2 years.

Hainanese believe that the Leigongma is a symbol of their positive and tolerant life attitude during the covid-19 epidemic.

I hope we can resume normal life as soon as possible on Hainan Island and receive tourists again in the near future.