Antique Home Altar Mazu, Protector of the Sea, China (19013ZRK) $425


H: 9”  W: 6.525”  D: 2.5 | FREE SHIPPING

This home devotional image, finely carved in the front and back, represents Mazu, the most revered Taoist female deity in coastal areas in mainland China, Taiwan and Vietnam. She sits in a traditional Taoist deity pose, hands covered by a ritual cloth with a space to hold a hu tablet on a plain armless high back chair. She is a provincial matronly figure, eyes calmly cast down, in humble attire with characteristically small feet, a hanging red, and a modest hat with a flat phoenix.


After her death at age 28, Mazu was immortalized as a cult figure and worshipped as a one of the tutelary Taoist-deities as “the Protector at Sea”  among seafarers in coastal China, especially by older women. In oral legends, she was the daughter of a Buddhist fisherman, revered for her filial piety and kindness, a shaman skilled in Chinese medicine, navigation, and astronomy, and spiritual healer. Her popularity spread during the Ming and Qing dynasties when hundreds of imperial and cultural temples were dedicated to her housing imperially sanctioned images. In provincial areas, local artisans carved small wood images to place on home altars portraying her as a pure, humble, and compassionate goddess. Dressed in peasant robes with a phoenix in her hat, often associated with provincial Mazu, she was a matronly mother, grandmother, or aunt-like figure affectionately called Ma Tsu P’o meaning grandma and Aunt Lin, her family name which reinforced her role as a mother who protects her child even though she was childless. It is believed anyone needing her assistance should call her by her casual name or she would have to suit up in her imperial regalia and be delayed. Irwin defines her as one of the Great Chinese Goddesses who are imperially sanctioned divinities that epitomized the feminine role of compassionate protectors who grant health, long life and safety in distress to all devotees. Made for a home altar, this antique-Chinese-wood-carving image sits on a plain armless high back chair in a traditional Taoist-deity pose with her hands held up covered by a ritual cloth with a space to hold a hu-tablet with a red sash from her waist. It was originally covered with gilt, red polychrome, and lacquer on front and back, now dulled from incense smoke and in very good condition with expected age losses and cracks. The closed cavity with original covering bong on the back indicates it was consecrated.  This image is part of the VA Taoist-Art and Deities-and-Legends Collections.

Click here for the Blog Consecrating Wooden Images to Imbue Them with A Life Force


Lee Irwin, “Divinity and Salvation: The Great Goddesses of China,” in Asian Folklore Studies, Indiana University, Vol. 49, 1990, pp 53-68.

Claudia Monique, “Matsu/Mazu Goddess of Sea,”  May 20, 2014.

Additional information

Weight 5 lbs
Dimensions 8 × 8 × 8 in

Antique, Qing Dynasty


19th Century

Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 9” W: 6.525” D: 2.5”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 22.86cm W: 16.5735cm D: 6.35cm


Very Good, expected signs of age and use.

Reference Number