Mazu is the Chinese goddess of the sea and one of the most adored and worshipped goddesses in all of Chinese mythology. Also known as the 'Empress of Heaven', she has more than 100 million devotees in the modern world.
In Magong on the Penghu Islands, you will find Mazu Temple, the oldest temple dedicated to Mazu in Taiwan – listed as a grade one historical site of importance.
Sailors have been visiting Mazu Temple for centuries to pray to the goddess to keep them safe at sea. The Chinese pronunciation of the Mazu Temple is 'Magong' and this is how the city of Magong came to have its name. The temple is a landmark for Magong and is considered a spiritual symbol of Penghu.
Built with superb craftsmanship
The temple was constructed more than 400 years ago, around the year 1604 during the Ming Dynasty. It has been enlarged and modified several times since then, usually to commemorate victories over invaders such as the Japanese and Dutch. Its present appearance is the result of a restoration that was undertaken in 1923.
In contrast to many temples in Penghu, the Mazu Temple still has an ancient appearance and feel to it. It was originally built using a traditional method without any nails and, despite being modified several times over the years, the craftsmanship remains superb. It is rather usual to see this kind of construction style in a temple of its size.
An elaborate interior
The Mazu effigy in the main hall of the temple has a golden face, commonly known as the “golden face Mazu", which is unique to Taiwan's Mazu temples. The temple also contains some elaborately carved wooden artworks.
On the front gate is a rare wooden carving depicting eight immortals crossing the sea. The various facial expressions of the immortals are extremely lifelike and exquisite, a testament to the great skill of the artist.