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Matsu (goddess)

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Matsu Islands is named after the goddess.


Matsu (媽祖 Pinyin: Māzǔ) or the Heavenly Holy Mother (天上聖母 Tianshang Shengmu) is the Chinese Goddess of Sea that provides safety, extremely popular among Taiwanese and Fujianese fishermen and their families. Matsu is Ling Muoniang's deification (see section "The person").

Table of contents

Names

  • Popular names:
    • Matsu ("Motherly Ancestor")
    • Matsu-po (媽祖婆) ("Elder Lady Matsu")
  • Official titles:
    • In the Yuan Dynasty, she was officially Protector of the Empire and the Brilliantly Outstanding Heavenly Emperor-consort (護國明著天妃 Huguo Mingzhu Tianfei).
    • In the Qing Dynasty, she was promoted to be the Heavenly Empress (天后)

The person

In 960 in earlier Northern Song Dynasty, Ling Muoniang (林默娘) was born as the seventh daughter of Lin Yuan (林愿) on Meizhou Island, Fujian. Although she started swimming relatively late in the age of 15, she soon became an excellent swimmer. She wore red standing on the shore to guide fishing boats home, even in the most dangerous and harsh weather. Ling Muoniang died in 987 at the age of 28. Some say she died at 16, died of exhaustion after swimming far into the ocean trying to find her lost father. Her corpse was washed ashore in Nankan[?] Island of the Matsu Islands.

To commemorate her acts of courage that deterred many disasters and hence protected many fishermen's families, she was frequently prayed to.

The goddess

After her death, many of the prayers to her were answered. Her effectiveness spreaded quickly. Eventually, she was known as the Heavenly Holy Mother, depicted wearing red robe and sitting on a grass mat. She was a deity endorsed officially by the Empires of Yuan and Qing.

Dedications

Ch'ao-t'ien Palace[?] (朝天宮) of Peikang Township (北港鎮), Yunlin[?] is the most popular temple of Matsu in Taiwan. Heavenly Empress Palace-Meizhou Ancestral Temple (天后宮湄洲祖廟) is is on her native Meizhou Island. There is also a temple on the Pescadores Islands.

In addition, there are 1500 other temples dedicated wholly, or usually, partly, to Matsu.

Her birthday-festival is on March 23 of the lunar calendar.

Lin Muoniang (2000), a minor Fujianese TV series, is a dramatization of the life of Matsu as human.

Parallel entities

Some major Dragon Kings are also deity of the seas, but they are disciplinarian father figures.

External links



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