Datianhou Temple

Datianhou Temple (Taina Grand Matsu Temple) is commonly known as a Mazu Temple of Tainan- the first Mazu Temple built by the government in Taiwan. The god worshipped in Datianhou Temple(Taina Grand Matsu Temple) is The Heaven God Mother, or widely called Mother Mazu, the most worshipped god in the Taiwanese society. The Datianhou Temple (Taina Grand Matsu Temple) was originally the palace of Emperor Ningjing of the Ming Dynasty. In the 22nd year of Emperor Kang Si (in 1684), after admiral Hsih Long had occupied Taiwan, he found that Mazu was mostly worshipped by the Taiwanese people and as a way to easy their hard feeling towards foreign rule, he then reported to the emperor and requested to have the Ningjing Palace rebuilt into a Mazu Temple and promoted Mazhu to Tianhou, meaning the Heaven God Mother. Since then the Mazu temple is called Datianhou Temple (Taina Grand Matsu Temple). Datianhou Temple (Taina Grand Matsu Temple) can be divided into 4 main parts : the San Chuan Hall, the Worship Hall, the Main Hall and the Back Hall. The lively large sized Mazu statue is the main feature of the Temple. It was the master piece of a sculptor from Chuan Chou about 300 years ago and is the representative work of Taiwan’s sculpturing of its kind.

In all temples, there are door guarding gods. To shows its class, the door guarding gods in the Datianhou Temple (Taina Grand Matsu Temple) are not by drawing but decorated by nails. Besides, owing to its unique status, there are numerous plates from well known scholars and VIP’s and some of them even endorsed by emperors of different dynasties, making them of so much historical value. At the two sides on the walls of the Worship Hall there fitted two pieces of stone tablets. One of them was set up in the 24th year of Emperor Kang Si (year 1685) by admiral Hsih Long, laying down the whole invasion process of Taiwan as well as how to soothe and manage the people thereafter. This stone tablet is the earliest Qing tablet now being kept in Taiwan. Datianhou Temple (Taina Grand Matsu Temple) is full of architectural features as well as things of cultural heritage. Visitors just feel like walking into some ancient art exhibition halls. Everything is so valuable and worth studying.

The Datianhou (Great Queen of Heaven) Temple (Taina Grand Matsu Temple) was built in 1684 for the worship of Taiwan’s most popular deity; Matsu, Goddess of the Sea. Mazu is the patron deity of fishermen, and her birthday on the 23rd day of the third lunar month (it falls in April or May) is celebrated each year with frenetic explosions of colorful activity.

The goddess is usually flanked by two guardians, Eyes that See a Thousand Miles and Ears that Hear on the Wind; these are said to have once been malevolent spirits who were reformed by Matsu’s example and now use their powers to help her do good works. A secondary deity in this temple is the Old Man under the Moon, a sort of matchmaker god worshipped especially by unmarried men and women. They believe that all they need do is pray to the god for a red matrimonial thread or apply their rouge before him and they will quickly find a mate.

Photo by Yang An Shen