female deity，sea god，magical power，pilgrim tour，regional cult
Sangren, P. Steven.1987. “History and magical power in a Chinese community”Sanford, Calif.
Stanford University Press
Mazu(媽祖) is one of the most popular goddess in Taiwan. Tianshang shengmu (天上聖母) is one of her religious title. Mazu was a woman named Lin Mo (林默) originally in Song dynasty. She was born in an island closed to Putian, Fujian province named Meizhou(湄洲). Her father is Lin Yuan (林愿) and mother’s surname is Wang. It is believed that Mazu was a medium and had talents on thaumaturgical ritual. When she was alive, people believed that she saved sailors when they were in shipwreck. After she was dead, people worship to her for blessing. By 1123, Lin Moniang as a goddess in popular religion was titled officially. The last time she got an official title which is the longest among all of her titles in 1857. There are sixty four characters in the title. The title is Huguo Bimin Miaoling Zhaoying Hongren Puji Fuyou Qunsheng Chenggan Xianfu Xianshen Zanshun Chuici Youan Lanli Yunze Qinhaiyu Tianpo Xuanhui Daoliuyan Qingjing Yangxizhi Enzhou Depu Weicao Baotai Zhenwu Suijiang Tianhou zhi Shen (護國庇民妙靈昭應宏仁普濟福佑群生誠感咸孚顯神贊順垂慈篤祐安瀾利運澤覃海宇恬波宣惠道流衍慶靖洋錫祉恩周德溥衛漕保泰振武綏疆天后之神). Most of these sixty four characters are prasing Mazu’s benevolent blessing.
The belief on Mazu propagated to Taiwan by Ming dynasty. The first temple dedicated to Mazu was established on the Penghu islands (澎湖). Later, during the period of 1623 to 1661, there were about four Mazu temples established in Yanshui (鹽水), Budai (布袋), Lugang (鹿港) and Xinzhu (新竹) along the west coast of Taiwan. When Taiwan was under the reign of Qing, the palace of Ningjing wang (寧靖王府) was refurniturated as a Mazu temple, now as Great Queen of Heaven Temple (大天后宮). There were established more Mazu temples than before. Today, among those Mazu temples, the Guandu templ (關渡宮) in Taipei, the Nanyao temple (南瑤宮) in Zhanghua (彰化), the Zhenlan temple (鎮瀾宮) in Taichung (台中) and the Gongtian temple (拱天宮) in Miaoli are important regional Mazu temples. The temples of Mazu established by official were mainly called Tianhou gong (天后宮), Temple of Divine Empress. Today, all of the Mazu temples are non-government established and managed. However, the title Tianhou gong is remained. There are also some groups or associations devoted to Mazu without establishing any temple. For example, the Liufang ma (六房媽) in Yunlin (雲林), the Jiuzhuang ma (九庄媽) around Xinshe (新社) are these kinds of devotion group.
The figure of Mazu’s statue is often in a style of empress who wears a Chinese crown and sits. She has two servant named Qianli yan (千里眼) and Shunfeng er (順風耳). A statue in the Tianhou temple of Lugang is believed to be the oldest one. Because the smoke of incense influence for years, her face becomes dark. Now she is called Heimian Ma (黑面媽), the Madam with dark face. Mazu’s statue also has some Doppelgänger, the tangible double of her statue, in some areas. The number is three, six or eight. Often it is three or six.
Mazu’s title are various. She is also called Tianhou (天后), Tianfei (天妃) or Shengmu (聖母). The devotees call her Mazu po (媽祖婆) intimately. The devotees whose surname is Lin call her Zugu po (祖姑婆)or Gupo zu (姑婆祖), meaning the Great Grandaunt.
At first, Mazu was as a sea goddess worshiped by people and sailor. In Taiwan, early migrants from Fujian also worshiped to Mazu for blessing them on crossing the Taiwan strait. When they settled from the coast area to the inner land of Taiwan, Mazu was still as a goddess blessing their farm work. Apparently, Mazu transformed from a sea goddess to a farm goddess. As a farm goddess, she also plays a role in preventing the farm from flood and the damaging of insect pest.
Keywords: female deity，sea god，magical power，pilgrim tour，regional cult