Mazu Legend

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Life Story

Mazu is a praised appellation for "sea goddess". Mazu's family name is Lin with the given name of Mo. There are different parlances about her life: one says she was born in Tianbao period of Tang Dynasty, the other says she was born in Jianlong period of Song Dynasty, but one thing is out of doubt: Mazu is a person, and she is an ordinary fish girl.

Sea Goddess Mazu

Lin Mo was born in a beautiful small fishing village on the banks of Meizhou bay, Putian City, Fujian Province—Xianliang Port. The family name Lin is one of the distinguished family names in Fujian Province. In the first year (307 AD) of Yongjia period of Jin Dynasty, Lin Lu, the earliest ancestor of the family name Lin in Fujian, helped the Langya King Sima Rui cross the river to build an imperial capital in Jianye city (now referred to as Nanjing city) with the official position of palace assistant minister. Mazu's great-great-grandfather Lin Yu, took an official post in Fujian Province. Her great-grandfather Lin Baoji, took an official post in the Later Zhou Dynasty and acted as military governor in the first year (954 AD) of Xian-De period, then abandoned the official post and took a retirement because of all the social chaos. Her grandfather Lin Fu was an officer as a director in Fujian. Her father Lin Yuan (another saying is Lin Weique), was the executive inspection chief in the early period of Song Dynasty. Her mother's family name is Wang and gave birth to one son (Named Lin Hongyi) and six daughters. Mazu is the youngest daughter in the family.

Mazu was born on March 23rd, Jianlong first year (960 AD) of the Song Dynasty. Before her birth, parents had already got five daughters and they were keen to regenerate a son, so they burn incense to pray to the god, wishing to have a son soon. However, they felt so disappointed when they eventually received a baby girl again. In the evening when she was born, neighborhood folks saw meteors turning into a red light from the northwest of the sky, so glittering, making rocks in the island wholly appearing red light. Her parents perceived the baby they received was not an ordinary girl, hence they took a good care of her affectionately. Because she did not cry at her birth, hence the name was Lin Mo.

Lin Mo was smart in the childhood, which was superior to her sisters. She went to study at school at eight, working hard and memorizing books. Her memory was perfect to memorize all the contents after only one sight. She had great ambitions from her childhood. Being not satisfied with the feudal marriage, she determined never to marry. Since childhood, she studied medicine, gained good medical skill, taught others to prevent epidemic diseases and hazards. She was easygoing, warm-hearted, and always willing to help others solve difficulties with all pleasure. It is said that, at the age of 28, Lin Mo got killed in the water due to a mast shot in the head during a rescue for distress ships at sea. After her death due to helping others, people viewed her as a god, who was dedicated to rescue the people in danger at sea. Since then, Mazu still often appeared. Folks always saw her showing nearby the rocks and water holes, sitting on a dish covered with clouds and mist, or flying in red garment over the sea. She often appeared in the dream visions and solved troubles for the people. Afterwards, the villagers built a temple at Meizhou Peak with religious worship, and an endless stream of later generations came to pilgrimage her.


Mazu rushed all her life on the sea, saving the emergency, defusing the crisis, protecting the people and blessing the public, The Seafarer saw her as a god. After death, she still took helping others as her own responsibility, saving victims in danger. People eventually treated Mazu as a veritable "Sea Goddess".

Mazu was brave, kind, clever, helpful and merciful for her entire life. After her death, people even admire and love her more than before, therefore, the legend of Mazu has been spreading more widely and vividly. There are fifteen items in the book "Records of Queen of Heaven" and sixteen in the "Celestial Concubine Records". They are: bringing everlasting green in Laiyu island, praying for rain to help people, taking grass as sail, turning grass into cedarwood to save business ship, yielding two gods, removing floods, rescuing her father and brother, healing the pestilence with her supernatural power, yielding two monsters, receiving spell from the god in the well, Mazu's miraculous birth, rising to the sky from Meizhou Island, expelling the weird wind, going across the river by iron horse, subduing a monster called Yan Gong, subduing a ghost in Gaoli.

Turing Grass into Cedarwood to Save Business Ship
At the west of Meizhou Island, there was a place called Wenjia (now called Wenjia), which was an important crossroads for the traffic of Meizhou bay, mingled with many rocks. Once, a merchant ships got attacked giant wind while passing through it. The corner of the ship hit on the rocks, then the water was poured into the cabin, so they cried for help at such a crisis. After Mazu heard that, she anxiously told the villagers: the merchant ship is sinking, we should be quick to rescue it. But facing such a huge storm, no one dare to go forward. At last minute, Mazu casually put the grass nearby her feet into the sea. All of a sudden, the grass turned into a big cedarwood, flowing to sideway of the ship. The ship prevented itself from sinking by clinging to this big cedarwood. After a short while, wind and wave recovered to peace, people on the ship celebrated for surviving. They all thought it was an assist from the heaven and celebrated for each other. When the ship docked to the shore, people suddenly found that the big wood has gone. By asking fellow villagers, they came to know that it was Mazu's magic power to turn the grass into big wood.

Goddess Rescue Ship

It is said that in the fifth year of Xuanhe period of the northern Song Dynasty, Song Dynasty sent messengers to take fleet to Koryo (now the north).They met storm at east sea, and seven of eight ships got sunk, with the only ship of messenger being trapped in the wind and waves. Suddenly, there was a red light flashing on the top of the mast, with a goddess in red garments sitting there. Immediately, all the thing calmed down, and messengers' ship turned the corner. Messengers got surprised, until a Putian person on board told them that Mazu goddess saved them.

Other Legends

Other famous Mazu apparition include digging sweet spring for militaries, assisting battle in Peng-hu, building temple by dreams, destroying plague with sacred springs, goddess rescuing the ship, protecting Mazu messenger, celestial concubine escorting, protecting grain transportation ship, assisting officials escape out, assisting winning in war, helping messenger get away from danger, solving difficulties in drought, goddess helping fix dam, seizing enemies in the sea, assisting song Dynasty in battle, helping extirpate enemies.

Practical Significance
However, whether they are legend or apparition, they are a psychological reaction with which people hope to deal with crisis situations. Compared to the saying that Mazu saved people, it is better to describe it to be "spiritual victory method". The role of spirit under certain circumstances is often irreplaceable to other powers, which is just the secret of "faith".
Mazu has many names, such as "Lin Women", "Goddess", "Mo", "Mo Niang", "Mazu", "Potusu", "Divine women", "Lady Lin", "Celestial Concubine", "Queen of Heaven" and so on, these names were not formed with having experienced several stages, not at once.

Appellation Origin

Take the name Lin Mo Niang or Mo Niang for example, in Minnan custom, that a girl name plus "Niang" is a respectful appellation. This name was formed through hundreds of years after the death of Mazu.
In Minnan dialect, "Ma" in the "Mazu" is the highest honored appellation for elder or respectable women. The name "Mazu" appeared relatively late, and the word was a honored appellation among people of Han folk.

The origin of goddess, divine women, celestial queen, queen of heaven. Mazu was unmarried and named as the concubine, which was based on ancient god faith. The sea goddess was listed after land god, who together married the heaven with sea goddess, so the name was concubine. The name showed up after the ruling class named it, and the names of divine women and lady appears first, then followed by the name of celestial queen and queen of heaven.

Other Appellations
1, Sea goddess empress.
2, In Shandong and Liaodong Province, she was called heaven goddess.
3, In Taiwan, she was called rain mom or water mom, for the reason that Mazu dominates the rain.