Killing Time at Taipei Airport: The Goddess Mazu

I’m happily on my way to Bangkok, and have the whole morning at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. In the terminal is a display of artifacts and the history of the Goddess Mazu. Buddhism came to Taiwan in the 16th Century ( so says an article) and incorporated Taoist and folk beliefs.

" Mazu is a popular Taoist and Chinese Buddhist goddess. She is the goddess and patroness of the sea. She is believed to protect fisherman and sailors. Mazu is widely worshiped in southern China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Zhejiang, Fuijian, Guangdong and Hainan. She is popularly known as Empress of Heaven and Holy Mother Empress of Heaven.

Mazu was born on March 23, 906. According to legend when she did not cry when she was born, so she was thereafter named Lin Moniang which means Silent girl or silent young female. She had a mysterious ability to predict weather and often she warned others to not make journeys to the sea. She became a very good swimmer and would often rescue people from the sea even in the harshest weather. There are at least 2 versions of her death. One legend tells that Mazu went out into the sea during a storm to try to find her lost father. Hours passed but still she could not find her father and later died of exhaustion. Another legend tells that Mazu climbed a mountain alone and flew into the heavens and became a goddess.

After her death, her family and many other families of sailors and fishermen started to pray for her heroic acts to try to save those at sea. Soon her worship spread quickly to other parts of Asia. Starting from Fuijian, worship of Mazu spread to neighboring coastal provinces of Zhejiang and Guandong, and thence to all coastal areas of mainland China. Later, due to Chinese immigrants, the worship of Mazu further spread to Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, Ryuku Islands, and parts of Southeast Asia. Many people soon began to build temples dedicated to Mazu all over the world. " Credit: Wiki

Metal bowl for fire ceremony


Just last month, 3 statues of Mazu and her 2 attendants left Fujian province for a tour of the Chinese diaspora. She travelled Business Class to Kuala Lumpur.


What a beautiful story and inspiring goddess! Thank you for sharing.

In the Christian tradition and folk worship in the Mediterranean people pray to Stella Maris - Mary Star of the Sea - to help and protect seafarers and sailors. Of course there is a spiritual and allegoric meaning as well:

In the twelfth century, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux wrote: “If the winds of temptation arise; If you are driven upon the rocks of tribulation look to the star, call on Mary; If you are tossed upon the waves of pride, of ambition, of envy, of rivalry, look to the star, call on Mary. Should anger, or avarice, or fleshly desire violently assail the frail vessel of your soul, look at the star, call upon Mary.” (Quoted from Wikipedia Our Lady Star of the Sea )

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I just realised that Mazu is known as Tin Hau in Cantonese. Hence the Tin Hau Temples in Hong Kong, most famously on Temple Street, near a popular night market:,_Yau_Ma_Tei

Land reclamation means that the Sea Goddess is somewhat landlocked in Yau Ma Tei…

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Land reclamation also did that to the temple here.