Why does Mazu culture have a long history of energy and inherit from generation to generation? Why is Mazu so influential?

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In folk beliefs around the world, the God who protects water navigation is only an indispensable God for life and production. In history, the God of water (sea god) in China has many beliefs, such as Yu Di, the legendary monarch who is good at water control, shuide Xingjun, who controls the water source, the Dragon King of the East China Sea who manages the sea, and the Zhaobao Qilang who protects the relics from the East, and so on. But their influence is less than that of Guanyin Bodhisattva (Cihang Taoist) and Mazu (Tianfei, Tianhou).

For thousands of years, Mazu’s influence has spread from Meizhou, Putian, Fujian Province, and has had a significant impact on the marine culture of East and Southeast Asia. In October, 2009, Mazu belief was also selected into the UNESCO representative list of human intangible cultural heritage. Unlike Guanyin, who was originally a Bodhisattva, Mazu’s prototype itself was a folk woman. So how did she become the world’s influential patron saint of navigation from an ordinary folk woman?


Meizhou goddess

According to legend, Mazu was originally an ordinary folk woman on Meizhou Island (now Meizhou Island) in Putian County of Xinghua army in the Northern Song Dynasty. Zhang Xie of the Ming Dynasty first recorded her birthday in the eastern and Western Ocean examination, “the heavenly concubine lived on Meizhou Island in Pu, the sixth daughter of Lin Yuan, the king of Fujian of the Five Dynasties, and her mother’s surname was Wang. The concubine was born on March 23, the first year of Jianlong of the Song Dynasty (960). She was born purple, with auspicious light and fragrance.” From birth to the full moon, the baby girl’s parents named her “Lin Mo”, also known as “Lin Mo Niang”. Zhang Xie said that she had the super power of prophecy. “When she was a child, she had powers and understood secret methods. It was amazing to talk about breaking the blame in advance.”

After Lin Mo Niang grew up, she didn’t get married and was determined to be kind. She often treated the nearby people and saved the shipwrecks, so she gradually became famous. On February 19, the fourth year of Yongxi’s reign (987), she was killed and disappeared in order to rescue a ship in distress at sea (first, her father and brother). After Lin Mo disappeared, Putian people said that she rose to heaven, regarded her as the embodiment of truth, goodness and beauty, and honored her as goddess and Mazu. Mazu’s life story spread rapidly along the coast of Putian and was deified in legend. In that year, local people built temples and sacrifices on the Meifeng peak, where Lin Mo Niang often held a lamp to pilot the sea. This is the ancestor of more than 6000 Mazu temples in the world, known as Meizhou ancestral temple, which still stands on Meizhou Island.

The deification of Mazu is closely related to the industries that local people in Fujian are engaged in. During the Song Dynasty, Fujian’s coastal ports have been developed successively, and foreign economic exchanges have been expanding day by day. Su Dongpo said in his memorials on Korea’s pilgrimage, “along the way, Fujian is mainly engaged in maritime businesses, and all coastal areas compete to sell goods by boat.” “Song Hui essentials manuscript” also records: “Zhang, Quan, Fu, Xinghua, all coastal people build boats and boats, but bring their own financial resources, and promote vendors for profit.” The prosperity of local maritime trade can be seen. But in ancient times, science and technology were backward, and navigation often had to go through the risks of whale waves. When encountering wind and waves, merchants and sailors often had to pray for the blessing of the gods. Therefore, Mazu, who can save the shipwreck, is naturally respected by people.

Liao Pengfei of the Southern Song Dynasty, written in the 20th year of Shaoxing (1150), “the reconstruction of Shunji temple at shengdun ancestral temple” is the earliest existing document about Mazu, recording such a story, “Yuanyou Bingyin, 1086, dun (Hanjiang shengdun) There is often a aura of glory appearing at night, and villagers don’t know what Xiang He is… When the night is full of dreams, the people beside the pier say, “I, the goddess of Meizhou, should house me on the pier because of her withered hair.” The father and the old are different, because the temple is built, and the number is called holy pier. Pray for floods and droughts, plagues, and sea invaders. The answer is like a prayer. Therefore, the merchant ship used it as a guide to get auspicious fortune and help. Although the waves were raging, the boat was still healthy. ” As a result, people nearby donated generously and built the Hanjiang shengdun goddess temple, which is the earliest Mazu sub temple.

The legend of Mazu’s revelation spread like wildfire, and spread more and more divine and far away. It spread from Putian to all over Fujian, and from Fujian to Guangdong, Guangxi, Zhejiang and other places. The legend of Mazu also arrived at the place where Fujian merchant ships arrived. Decades later, a dangerous situation occurred when the Song Dynasty sent a mission to Korea to return home. This event promoted Mazu’s upgrading from folk belief to official belief.

Xuanhe makes Li

After the establishment of the Northern Song Dynasty, it established tributary and trade relations with Wang’s Koryo. Later, due to the fact that Liao was sandwiched between the two, from then on, “those who did not know China for 43 years”. It was not until 1073 that Koryo sent envoys to the Song Dynasty again by water that official envoys between the two countries became increasingly frequent. Due to the Dengzhou (now Penglai, Shandong) line on the North Road, there is a great chance to meet the Liao Navy; Only the South Road Mingzhou (now Ningbo, Zhejiang Province) line can be taken. “Since Yuanfeng (1078), the imperial court dispatched envoys from Mingzhou Dinghai (now Zhenhai) to the north.” (the Koryo Sutra of Xuanhe and Fengshi)

In March of the fourth year of Xuanhe (1122), King Minamata Hong of Korea. In the following year, in order to consolidate the relations between the two countries, Emperor Huizong of song sent Shi Zhong Lu Yundi and Fu Moqing, the Buddhist monk of Zhong Shu, as the chief and Deputy envoys to Korea to pay tribute. There was a key figure in the mission. He was Xu Jing from Ouning, Fujian (now Jianou, Fujian), who was then Feng Yilang. On the occasion of his mission to Korea, he recorded the whole journey and the national conditions of Korea, and named it “Xuanhe Fengshi Koryo Sutra”. Xu Jing said in the original preface of this book that he wrote this history book to inherit the ancient tradition of diplomats to send envoys to see and hear, so that the emperor “lives deep in the high arch, and observes the four directions thousands of miles away, like the palm of his hand”, and can deepen his understanding of foreign national conditions. The book of Koryo pictures of Xuanhe and Fengshi, with a total of 40 volumes, is also the official record of the earliest Koryo envoy in China. Both the old and the new “book of Tang” have “biography of Korea”; However, the only real work based on on-the-spot investigation is the Koryo Sutra of Xuanhe and Fengshi. The book records the mountains and rivers, customs, laws and regulations of Korea, as well as the transportation routes between Song Dynasty and Korea.

The Koryo Sutra of Xuanhe and Fengshi also partially explains how Mazu upgraded from a folk belief to an official belief. The large ship used by overseas envoys in the Song Dynasty is called Shenzhou, “towering as a mountain, floating on the waves, with brocade sails at the head, yielding to the Jiaoyu”. The Shenzhou Xu Jing and his companions rode was named as lingxu Zhiyuan’s comfort, Lingfei Shunji, Dingxin’s benefit in Huaiyuan and Kangji, and circulating current and comfort in Tongji. According to the Koryo Sutra of Xuanhe and Fengshi, a major danger occurred when they returned home, “in the afternoon, the three ridges folded together”, “the people in the same boat broke their mourning, and the auspicious light showed up. However, Fuzhou’s performance of the island God was also different in the early stage, so although the sun boat was dangerous, it could still change him.” The God of Yanyu in the book is not Mazu linmuniang, but the male god of the sea believed by Xu Jing. It is said to be Chen Yanhui, the eldest son of Chen Yan, a Fujian observation envoy in the Tang Dynasty.

However, another Fujian fellow gave a different explanation. At that time, Lu Yundi was surprised, so he asked his subordinates what gods appeared to save him. It happened that there was a baoyilang Li Zhen from Putian, Fujian Province, who believed in Mazu at ordinary times, so he reported to Lu Yundi that this was Mazu’s manifestation.

Faced with two different interpretations of the same event by different parties, what should the court do? Song Huizong adopted a balanced approach. Since everyone has faith, they are simply closed, which is conducive to pleasing the people. Xu Jing believed in Fuzhou’s “God of the island”, and the imperial court awarded the temple of “Zhaoli”; For Mazu, it was awarded as the “Shunji” temple. The two dictionaries of “Shunji” came from the “spirit flying Shunji Shenzhou” sent to Korea. In this way, Mazu was upgraded from a folk belief to an official belief.


“Rebuilding Shunji temple at shengdun ancestral temple” records in detail the process of Mazu’s deification, “Xuanhe guimao gave justice to the way in the middle of the matter. Di sent an envoy to Koryo and daodonghai. When the wind and waves were turbulent, eight people rushed against each other, and seven people drowned. Duke Du rode in a boat, and a goddess climbed the mast, which was in a whirling shape, and Russia received peace relief. Because he was heckled in the public, his colleague at that time, baoyilang Li Zhen, who had always worshipped the God of the holy pier, had the details of the Tao, and also played all dynasties, taking ‘Shun Ji’ as the imperial edict of the temple.” In December of the thirtieth year of Shaoxing, “Emperor Gaozong of the Song Dynasty” sealed Mrs. Linghui Zhaoying “, which was also recorded in the national history” song Huiyao? Goddess Temple “. In the third year of Shaoxi’s reign (1192), Emperor Guangzong of the Song Dynasty also granted the title of “Linghui imperial concubine”, raising Mazu’s title to imperial concubine level.

Third generation sealing

Between the yuan and Yuan Dynasties, Emperor Kublai Khan of the Yuan Dynasty moved his capital to Dadu (now Beijing) and unified the country. After unifying the country, he also posed an extremely thorny problem for himself: as the capital of a huge empire, how to solve the problem of grain transportation?

This is the most urgent and difficult problem to solve. The annual grain tax income of the Yuan Dynasty was about 12 million stones, and 10 million stones came from the south of the Yangtze River. Yuan Shizu first thought of using the canal. He ordered the famous scientist GuoShouJing to preside over the excavation of the Jeju River, Huitong River and Tonghui River, forming the Beijing Hangzhou Grand Canal, so that grain ships from the South can be directly transported outside the palace wall. At the same time, in order to fundamentally solve the food problem, as the founder of the super Empire, he had different vision and ambition from the previous emperors, and also let Luo Bi, Zhu Qing and Zhang Xuan (the latter two were born as pirates) open up a maritime transportation line. According to the statistics of the records of ocean shipping in the Yuan Dynasty and the records of food and goods in the history of the Yuan Dynasty, the number of grain transported by sea rose by steps, reaching more than three million stones a year at most. Since then, ocean shipping has become the artery related to the economy of the Yuan Dynasty. Therefore, Mazu belief has seen the most significant turnaround.

In 1281, due to the meritorious service of escorting the water transport, the ancestors of the Yuan Dynasty inscribed Mazu as the “imperial concubine of the Ming Dynasty”. Tianfei is the consort of the emperor of heaven and the spouse of heaven. The title of emperor Shizu of the Yuan Dynasty first linked Mazu with “protecting the country”, and officially became the God of heaven, establishing Mazu’s exclusive status as a maritime protection god. Since then, Emperor Chengzong, Emperor Wenzong and Emperor Huizong of the Yuan Dynasty have all granted Mazu a royal seal. In this way, after the promotion of many emperors in the Yuan Dynasty, Mazu became the official navigation protection god, and became increasingly popular.

Mazu also entered the national sacrifice system of the Yuan Dynasty, “The history of the Yuan Dynasty? Sacrifice annals” contains: “the goddess of the South China Sea, Mrs. Linghui, arrived in the middle of the Yuan Dynasty to protect the sea, sealed the imperial concubine, and the God’s name accumulated to the cross. The temple is called lingci. There are temples in Zhigu, Pingjiang, zhoujing, Quan, Fu, Xinghua and other places. Since the emperor’s day, the year-old envoys have been sent to sacrifice all over the place, with gold flags and silver collars, paid to Pingjiang official Cao Si and the officials of the government…” this annals lists six places where Mazu temples are built, In the north, there is only Zhigu, the predecessor of Tianjin. In the Jin and Yuan Dynasties, the junction of Lu (now the North Canal) and Wei (now the south canal) was called Zhigu, which was the first place where Tianjin city rose. Thanks to the sea water transport in the Yuan Dynasty, its position is becoming more and more important: it is the terminal port of shipping, and it is also the transit terminal for grain transport in the capital. In the “history of the Yuan Dynasty? Yingzongbenji” in May of the first year of Zhizhi (1321) and February of the third year of Zhizhi, it was recorded twice that “grain was stored in the sea until Zhigu, and envoys were sent to worship the God of the sea and the concubine of heaven”.

In addition, it is interesting that haicao not only created Tianjin, a big city, but also changed the fate of Shanghai. Before the Yuan Dynasty, Shanghai was just an ordinary Jiangnan Town in Huating county. Due to the need of water transportation, in the 29th year of the Zhiyuan Dynasty, the Yuan Dynasty upgraded it to a county, opened a port here and set up a city shipping department. From then on, it gradually revealed its extraordinary development potential.

In the Ming Dynasty, in order to prevent Japanese pirates, Emperor Taizu of the Ming Dynasty implemented a sea ban policy, but he and Emperor Chengzu of the Ming Dynasty also consecrated Mazu successively. For example, Emperor Chengzu of the Ming Dynasty’s title was “protecting the country, sheltering the people, Miaoling, Zhaoying, Hongren, Puji Tianfei”. The Qing Dynasty, which implemented the sea ban, also favored Mazu because of the water transport through the canal and the travel to and from Taiwan. According to statistics, the Qing court praised Mazu the most times, the most closely spaced, and the highest level, a total of 15 times. In the second year of Qianlong’s reign (1737), the prince in office allowed Huang Zhongyou, the Taiwan garrison general, to return to Taiwan with Chen Yuanmei, the Taiwan garrison. When he was in distress in the ocean, he received the help of Mazu God and requested that Mazu be sealed as “Queen of heaven.” Emperor Gaozong of the Qing Dynasty approved Yun Yi’s Memorial and agreed to seal Mazu as the queen of heaven, and Mazu’s title rose to another level. Since then, successive emperors of the Qing Dynasty continued to seal Mazu. In the seventh year of Xianfeng (1857), Wenzong sealed Mazu as “protecting the country, protecting the people, protecting the wonderful spirit, Zhaoying Hongren, Puji, blessing, protecting the group, sincerely feeling Xianfu, showing God, praising Shun, CI Duhu, an LAN, Li Yunze, Qin Haiyu, Tian Bo, Xuanhui Road, Qingyang xizhi’en, Zhou Dewei, Cao Baotai, Zhenwu, the God of the queen of Suijiang”, with a title of 64 words, becoming the highest title among the goddesses, pushing Mazu’s divine personality to the peak of history.

The admiration and attention of the yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties have become an important reason for the long history of Mazu culture and its inheritance from generation to generation. Up to now, in addition to Guanyin Bodhisattva (Cihang Taoist), a part-time sea god, as a full-time sea god, Mazu’s influence is unmatched in the global Chinese circle and extremely rare among the Chinese gods. 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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