Antique Polychrome Mazu “Holy Mother in Heaven,” China (3429AEM) $1400


H: 19.25″  W: 10″  D: 8.75″ | FOR SHIPPING INFORMATION CONTACT US AT 213-568-3030

Seated imperiously on a horseshoe chair with legs on a turquoise embossed pedestal on a base with carved  characters of her title “Holy Mother in Heaven,” this majestic Mazu is depicted in the imperial style, wearing a regal flat topped headdress and elaborate robes with dragons and an officials girdle at the waist highlighted in red and covered with gilt. This wonderful carving is in excellent condition after years of use.




Mazu has been one of the most popular Taoist-deities in southeastern coastal China since the early Song dynasty, a syncretic goddess revered by followers of Buddhism and Popular Religion and one of the Great Chinese Goddesses (Irvin). Mazu was a legendary young female shaman named Lin Mo who used her powers to save seafarers and became their tutelary deity. Legends about her prowess spread throughout China and Southeast Asia and when she died at age 28 she became the cult figure “the Protector at Sea.”  She was  canonized and raised to the highest rank of a female. In 1664 she receiving the title  “Holy Mother in Heaven”  which is carved with gilt on this image and “Empress of Heaven” in 1737. New myths about her feats and filial piety that attested to her noble background were created. One myths described how at her death she reached a mountain top to meet her destiny and was engulfed by clouds while music played, a bright orange and gold light carried her to the heavens, and a rainbow appeared. In Taoist mythology a rainbow represents dragons (seen on her dragon robes), mythical animals who are a link between earth and heaven and bring good fortune and blessings to those in their presence. The rainbow colors in here also symbolize the five Taoist elements and orange is strongly associated with Bodhisattvas who stay on earth and help others. Seated imperiously on a horseshoe chair, this majestic Matsu was carved from a single piece of dense wood, legs resting on a turquoise embossed pedestal set on a base. Her elaborate gilt robe has a white collar, a red girdle at the waist flowing to her shoes and is meticulously detailed using a blend of sawdust and gesso to form raised textured motifs that include clouds, a dragon framed by her girdle, and a flying dragon on each shoulder. She wears a red imperial flat headdress. Layers of polychrome red and gold leaf are highlighted with lacquer creating an effect reminiscent of gilded bronze sculpture with the large amounts of gold associated with enlightenment. It is in excellent condition with the polychrome on her face and hands having been removed revealing a white stucco undercoating. This antique-Chinese-woodcarving shows the decorative influence of Taoism on Qing carvings of this era.


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

Place of Origin



Antique, Qing Dynasty


19-20th Century

Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 19.25” W: 10” D: 8.75”

Dimensions (metric)

: Ht: 48.9cm W: 25.4 cm D: 22.2cm


11lbs 7oz


Very good, patina and wear consistent with age and use

Item Number


Shipping Box Size