What kind of God is Mazu, who has 300 million believers around the world?

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There are many goddesses in Greek mythology, and erene is the famous “goddess of peace”. In the 1980s, the United Nations awarded a Chinese woman the title of “goddess of peace”. Different from the myth of Irene, this woman is real. She is the “Mazu” who is popular in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. Her miracles are still widely spread and talked about.


On March 23, the first year of Jianlong in the Northern Song Dynasty (960 AD), another baby girl was added to the Lin family on Meizhou Island, Putian, Fujian Province. The newborn baby never cried from birth to the full moon. His father Lin weikuo and his wife Wang named the baby Lin mo. At the age of 16, Lin Mo “peeped into the well and got a talisman”, “being in the room, wandering outside, talking about good and bad luck, I’m not surprised.”. Since then, she has been deeply loved for rescuing shipwrecks, treating diseases and providing disaster relief. On September 9, the fourth year of Yongxi (AD 987), 28 year old Lin Mo emerged and soared. People in Meizhou miss her kindness and call her “Mazu”.


The earliest written record of Mazu is in the 20th year of Shaoxing in the Southern Song Dynasty (1150 A.D.). The literati liaopengfei described in the article “the reconstruction of Shunji temple in shengdun ancestral temple”: “the goddess of heaven is also handed down from generation to generation. Her surname is Lin, and she is from Meizhou Island. At the beginning, she took Wu Zhu as a matter, and she can predict people’s misfortunes and blessings; when she died, everyone set up the temple on this island.” Mazu Li temple worship started in the Song Dynasty. Previously, it was only “just a few rafters” in Meizhou. It experienced the yuan, Ming, Qing and other dynasties, and gradually flourished, realizing the counter attack from the bottom up and enjoying the highest level of sacrifice.

The emperors of all dynasties granted Mazu titles 35 times, ranging from “madam”, “imperial concubine”, “heavenly Concubine”, “virgin” to “Queen of heaven”, and also included Mazu sacrifice in the national ceremony. Meizhou Mazu temple is the first Mazu temple in the world, covering an area of 38000 square meters. There is a 14 meter high giant Mazu statue on the top of the temple. In May, 2006, Meizhou Mazu temple was listed in the Sixth Batch of national key cultural relics protection units.

“Auxiliary country”: the patron saint of marine culture

Mazu’s success depends on her own spiritual core. From the title, we can see that Mazu has three major achievements, namely, “supporting the country”, “protecting the saint” and “sheltering the people”.

“Fu Guo” is an important turning point for Mazu. In the fifth year of Xuanhe in the Northern Song Dynasty (AD 1123), gishi Zhonglu Yundi was ordered to go to Korea by ship and was in danger halfway. After turning the tide, the Fujian boatman on board told the ship that it was lucky to be rescued by Mazu, and it was only safe. Lu Yundi returned to the court to reply. Please seal Mazu temple. Emperor Huizong of song personally gave “Shunji Temple forehead”. This is the first time Mazu has been officially recognized, and it is also a magnificent turn from a local god to a national God.

During the song and Yuan Dynasties, the rulers implemented an active expansion policy for overseas trade. In the Song Dynasty, city shipping departments were set up in Guangzhou, Mingzhou, Mizhou, Quanzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai and other places, and Guangzhou was the largest port at that time, with the city shipping tax ranking first in the country. Quanzhou is close behind, and the local people can “observe the sun in the day, the stars in the night, and the compass in the dark”. Its navigation technology is at the world leading level.


The ruler realized that “the benefits of the city ship are the thickest. If the measures are appropriate and the income is millions, won’t it win over the people”, thus encouraging Mazu’s sacrifice and dissemination. Quanzhou people brought Mazu to the coastal areas of the country, Southeast Asia and even East Africa in the process of navigation, and became a faith and custom with world influence.

The Song Dynasty once monopolized the overseas trade from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean. For this reason, Mazu was officially granted the title as many as 14 times, which established the status of the patron saint of the sea. The rise of Mazu is inseparable from the prosperity of ancient marine culture. The “auxiliary country” is the organic integration of faith and customs and the sea, which has a positive significance in promoting overseas trade.

“Saint protector”: the protector of commercial trade

If “Fu Guo” is the embryonic period of Mazu, then “protecting saint” is her development period. During the Yuan Dynasty, Quanzhou surpassed Guangzhou to become the largest port in China. Italian traveler Marco Polo was deeply shocked by the spectacular scene of Quanzhou port and called it the world’s largest port. The Yuan Dynasty established a foreign trade system dominated by Quanzhou, Guangzhou, Mingzhou and Mizhou. The commercial tax brought by developed overseas trade became one of the important sources of fiscal revenue in the Yuan Dynasty.

In addition, the Yuan Dynasty benefited a lot from the canal transportation. In the 18th year of the Zhiyuan Dynasty (AD 1281), the emperor Shizu of the Yuan Dynasty granted Mazu the title of “imperial concubine of Ming Dynasty for protecting the country” on the ground of “protecting the water transport”. Compared with the Song Dynasty, the title of the Yuan Dynasty was upgraded from “imperial concubine” to “heavenly Concubine”, which was significantly improved by one level. In the late Yuan Dynasty, Mazu was awarded five times, and the temple of the heavenly concubine was awarded “lingci”, and envoys were sent to sacrifice in the temples along the water transportation. Mazu’s annual sacrifice has become an official rule. A new round of Mazu belief spread in the Yuan Dynasty created a good atmosphere for the gradual rise of Mazu’s status.

When the Yuan dynasty fell and the Ming Dynasty prospered, Zhu Yuanzhang, the emperor Taizu of the Ming Dynasty, implemented the sea ban policy, but still retained diplomacy and foreign tribute trade. Mazu naturally became the Amulet of envoys and boatmen. During the reign of Zhu Di, the emperor Chengzu of the Ming Dynasty, the sea ban was relaxed and the city shipping departments in Guangzhou, Quanzhou and Ningbo were restored. After Zheng He was ordered to “go to the West for seven times”, he objectively stimulated the prosperity of overseas trade. The marine policy of the Ming Dynasty changed frequently, and Mazu was sealed twice, keeping the same status with the Yuan Dynasty.

From “supporting the country” to “protecting the saint”, the change lies in the expansion of Mazu’s protection from ocean shipping to inland water transport. This change enriches and expands the connotation core and dissemination scope of Mazu’s belief.


“Shelter people”: the “Queen of heaven” who respects life

In fact, “shelter people” represents Mazu’s maturity. As a dynasty established by ethnic minorities, the Qing Dynasty maintained a tolerant attitude towards the folk beliefs of the Han nationality. In the 23rd year of Kangxi (A.D. 1684), the imperial court granted the posthumous title of Mazu as “the queen of mercy who protects the country and protects the people”. This title shows that Mazu has been promoted to a God at the same level as God, reaching an unprecedented height, and its importance is obvious.

The reason why the Qing Dynasty rewarded Mazu wantonly was the affirmation and praise of her many legends. It is said that Mazu once “saved merchants by turning grass” to help ships in distress. She “burned the house and piloted” at night to guide the lost foreign ships. When Mazu was 21 years old, there was a drought in Putian. She “prayed for rain to help the people”. There are many legends about Mazu helping the needy.

The Qing Dynasty used Mazu’s respect and assistance for life to vigorously maintain and publicize Mazu’s image, which not only shaped its own environment of being pro political and loving the people, but also attracted the hearts of the Han people, achieving the goal of killing two birds with one stone.

For this reason, Mazu was granted 14 times in the Qing Dynasty, and five times in the Xianfeng Dynasty alone, the same number as in the Song Dynasty. In the seventh year of Xianfeng (1857 AD), the imperial court granted Mazu a posthumous title of 64 words, which is incomparable to other gods. In the Qing Dynasty, Mazu sacrifice was included in the national sacrifice ceremony, and local officials were ordered to carry out the spring and autumn Oracle sacrifice on the same scale as Confucius, the literary saint, and Guan Gong, the martial saint. It can be seen that Mazu received quite high treatment. “Sheltering the people” is essentially the concentrated response of Mazu to care for life, and it is also the inexhaustible driving force for Mazu to maintain its vigorous vitality.


The three sacred relics of Mazu not only represent her main achievements, but also the changing track of the development and expansion of Mazu’s faith. In short, Mazu is the embodiment of traditional marine culture. On September 30, 2009, UNESCO listed Mazu belief customs as the intangible cultural heritage of mankind, becoming the first world heritage of belief customs in China.

At present, Mazu belief spreads in 45 countries around the world, with more than 5000 Mazu temples and more than 300million believers. It has become one of the major believers in the southeast coast, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. With the spread and promotion of Mazu belief, religion, culture and tourism related to Mazu are in the ascendant and are renewed for a long time. In the future, the worship of Mazu will continue. Disclaimer: the above content originates from the network, and the copyright belongs to the original author. Please inform us if your original copyright is infringed, and we will delete the relevant content as soon as possible.

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