Antique Carved Mazu, Protector of the Sea, China (19415PRO) $275


H: 5.5”  W: 3.375  D: 3” | FREE SHIPPING

This antique figurine is a matronly version of Mazu, Empress of Heaven in a horseshoe chair with gold earrings, hat topped with a phoenix and dressed in robes with a scalloped cloud collar. She is said to have lived in the 10th century only 28 years with a pure spirit and compassion for those in need throughout the world. With supernatural powers she performed miracles, subdued evil spirits and protected those at sea. After her death, she became a deity and is still widely prayed to as a Chinese deity.


This small antique-Chinese-wood-carving represents Mazu, which translates as “Mother Ancestor,” the tutelary deity “Protector of the Sea” who protects seafarers and is very popular among Taiwanese, Fujianese, and Cantonese sea cultures. This syncretic cult figure is the most imortant ofthe female Taoist-Deities and continues to be worshipped by Taoist, Buddhist and Popular Religion followers. In this small provincial rendition she is presented as a somewhat humble Empress seated on a horseshoe chair, holding her official’s girdle wearing a hat topped by a phoenix with outstretched wings and finely detailed feathers, a popular female deity headdress fashion especially for Mazu during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Her cloud collar is more than a decorative element, as clouds (yun) and cloud collars symbolize Mazu’s place in heaven. They also resemble the head of a Chinese wish-granting ruyi wand. Irwin defines her as one of the “Great Chinese Goddesses” who are imperially sanctioned divinities that epitomize the feminine role of compassionate protectors who grant health, long life and safety in distress to all devotees regardless of rank and social standing.  Carved from dense wood with well-articulated features, remnants of the original red pigmentation remain and it is covered by lacquer naturally darkened from candle and incense smoke. It is in very good condition despite a crack on the base, a missing fingertip and expected scrapes and minor losses of pigments and lacquer due to age and use. Still highly venerated today, Mazu has been the patron saint of Taiwan since the Chinese first settled there in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This is part of the VA Collections of Buddhist-Art and Deities-and-Legends.


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.

Primal Trek, The Hidden or Implied Meaning of Chinese Charm Symbols, primaltrek

Additional information

Weight 5 lbs
Dimensions 8 × 6 × 4 in
Place of Origin



Antique, Qing Dynasty


18-19th Century

Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 5.5” W: 3.375” D: 3”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 13.97cm W: 8.57cm D: 7.62




Very good, see description

Reference Number