Mazu Culture – Taiwan’s Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity


Yesterday, I went to the Yuppie Bookstore to listen to Mr. Ma Jikang’s “Different World Heritage – Mazu Beliefs and Customs”, which gave me a new understanding of Taiwan’s Mazu culture. Mazu is so common in Taiwan that everyone should have been to or at least passed through a Mazu temple. Lara’s grandparents are even one of the founders of a Matsu branch temple. When they traveled north from their hometown of Yunlin, because of their devout beliefs, they hoped to be blessed by Mazu, so they sent out a pot from Beigang Chaotian Temple to invite God to Taipei, and established a “branch” in Wanhua – Beigang Chaotian Temple Mazu Temple. And I did a “tour” when I was a kid, and I was the leader for a short time (maybe only an hour XD) at the annual grand celebration – the drummer.

Mazu, surnamed Lin and named Mo Niang, was a native of Meizhou, Fujian during the Northern Song Dynasty. The origin of the name is because the mother did not cry like a normal baby when she was born, so it was named “Mo Niang”. Because of his extraordinary birth, he later learned witchcraft and often prayed for his father, brother, and even the people in the village to go to sea safely. At the time of the blooming years, one day, because of his father and brother who were killed in fishing in the sea, he drowned in the current Mazu. In order to commemorate Mo Niang’s filial piety, later generations named the place “Mazu”. Because of Mazu, the place name that came from Penghu is Ma Gong of Penghu. Because there was the first Mazu Temple here in the Yuan Dynasty. During the Japanese occupation period, the Japanese came to Penghu and asked the locals where is this place? Because of the language barrier, the locals said “Mamong” (Tianhou Palace), so later this place was officially called “Magong”, which is the origin of the place name “Magong” in Penghu.

Another place name that I never thought of — “Macau”. Everyone knows that the English name of Macau is Macau, but Macau and Macau are completely transliterated. Sorry, what is going on? It turned out that when the Portuguese landed here in 1523, they also asked the locals where it was, but because of the language barrier, the locals thought they were asking where the temple was (the temple at that time was usually the busiest or in the city center), They answered “Mago” (meaning Mazu Temple) in Cantonese, so the Portuguese called it MACAO.

Mazu, who has 200 million followers around the world, was actually just a local belief in the beginning. However, due to the shortage of food in Fujian at that time, many people from Zhangzhou and Quanzhou left one after another to make a living, so they brought this belief to all parts of the world. In Taiwan, it became the official “God-creation Movement” promoted by the emperor of the Qing Dynasty in order to win over and consolidate people’s hearts. Teacher Ma Jikang said very interestingly, saying that Mazu’s title is the same as that of Zhen Huan in the harem, striving to be higher in the harem. From the original Linghui “Mrs.” to the later Ming Dynasty, because Zheng He’s voyages to the West needed to stabilize the military’s heart, he was given the title of “Tianfei”. Later, after Shi Lang recaptured Taiwan in the Qing Dynasty, he attributed the victory to Mazu’s manifestation because he was afraid of high performance. The Emperor Kangxi, Long Xin Da Yue, was again named “Queen of Heaven”, and built the first officially funded “Grand Tower” in Tainan. Tianhou Palace”. Although the euphemistic name is to be grateful for Mazu’s manifestation, but it is actually out of political considerations, to find a good reason to replace the Ming Dynasty’s Xuantian God with Mazu, so that everyone can dispel the idea of ​​​​anti-Qing and restore Ming… It really proves that the whole world No matter what, no matter the dynasty….Religion is used to consolidate the regime.

It is said that Mo Niang was killed in 28 years, and she was not married and had no children. The idols in Fujian all look like girls, but when they arrived in Taiwan, they grew up three times and became Obasan…… Not only do they have no female features, but the cheeks are plump, the makeup is mature, and the figure has become like an aunt… (covers face). How did this cross a strait, and everything went out of shape? ! It turned out to be its own origin! In the early years, those who immigrated to Taiwan had to pass through the “Black Water Ditch” (Taiwan Strait). Because the wind and waves are very dangerous, there is a saying that “six die, three stay and one turn back”, that is, six of the ten people who come will be there. Died at sea, three were able to land smoothly, and one ran away in the middle… So the “Arhat feet” who crossed the sea at that time would beg for the blessing of Mazu; I can only complain to the “mazuma” like a mother…. So the god statue in Taiwan (the same concept all over the world) is not actually what the god really looks like, but the hope in people’s hearts. image of.

The “black face” Mazu statue was blackened by the prosperity of incense

Mazu goes on tour and starts driving

The third month of the lunar calendar is the birthday of Mazu (so Mazu should be an Aries?) This is an annual event! Mazu temples all over Taiwan have detour ceremonies. At present, the largest and most mobilized is the Dajia Zhenlan Palace. At the beginning, it was a custom in the Qing Dynasty. Every 12 years, we had to go back to Meizhou to enter the incense. His parents are expensive because of their daughters, and they are also promoted to immortals?). But later, because Beigang Chaotian Palace and Lukang Fengtian Palace competed each other to be the first in Taiwan, and the interests of mortals led to the fact that Dajia Zhenlan Palace decided to change to Lukang Fengtian Palace instead of Chaotian Palace.

Generally speaking, the duration of the detour is 8 days and 7 nights. In order to meet the two-day weekend and the publicity time limit (the teacher said so~ haha), the Dajia Zhenlan Palace has changed it to 9 days and 8 nights, so that the event will start from Friday. The evening begins and ends across Sunday. After so many days of walking 3-4 hundred kilometers, most of the believers who participated may be older people, or they have been devout all their lives, or come to repay their vows. They all come for Mazu, so they eat, drink, sleep and do everything. It’s all about convenience. I was tired from walking during the day and slept on the floor at night, no one complained.

Lara was very young when she participated, except for firecrackers | walking is very tiring | beating gongs and drums, I don’t remember anything else… But it seems that this is one of the things you must do as a Taiwanese! So maybe next year will come to a good plan~ Here are some special photos to share:

(Maybe I can share my own photos next year~)

Most of the people who take part in the detour are laying floors in temples or schools

Walking is too hard, kind people provide free pain patch or massage service

“Zanxiang” sponsored bath car

Every year there is a “list” on the tour, and every powerful palace hopes to grab the “top fragrance” (picture taken from the Internet)


“The most beautiful scenery in Taiwan is the human touch”

This sentence has often become ironic on the Internet in the past two years…. However, in this annual “Matsu”, we can really have confidence in ourselves again. Throughout the journey, there are free food and snacks provided by believers or benevolent people for all participants. All of them are voluntary, without excessive commercial propaganda, simply respect and love Mazu, and encourage and cheer for those who are fellow believers.


The little girl served tea to the hard-working sedan chairmen/flag sewing team

Even TA-Q-BIN has launched a free change of clothes delivery service

Even TA-Q-BIN has launched a free change of clothes delivery service

This problem may be encountered by me who lives in the “Dragon Kingdom”… When the traditional temple fair and firecrackers meet the children at home who are going to sleep… It’s actually a difficult choice XD Just like Mr. Ma In the lecture, I gave an example that made me want to cover my ears and don’t want to listen: Some places eat dog meat, can you criticize him? ! As a dog lover, I must be extremely opposed and unimaginable…. But where they eat dog meat, it should be a habit left by their society from ancient times to the present, maybe there is not enough food in that place , that is purely part of life for them. When I use my living habits and ideas to criticize each other, do I forget… We live under different values. Just as Christian believers cannot hold incense, can they forbid others to worship? Muslims have to pray five times a day, can non-Islamic people not be allowed because of working hours? While eating dog meat is something I can never accept, maybe it’s time to try to see a different culture from my own perspective. Because while I’m chanting don’t discriminate, maybe I’m somewhere…haven’t done it yet…

(轉貼自 馬繼康老師的簡報)

When I lived in Russia, I often encountered introducing my own culture to friends from other countries. During this process, I realized how inadequate my understanding of my own culture was. After having kids, I’m more concerned with broader issues, whether it’s East or West; mass or niche. During this process of exploration and understanding, I became more and more anxious, afraid of missing any topic, and became more and more aware of my cultural identity. Tradition, the reason why it can be passed down must be its perpetual reason. Such beauty requires our participation in order to continue to inherit.

Sharing a protection website found on the Internet, there are articles related to Taiwanese gods, which I think are full of “down-to-earth” ^^

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