Antique Imperial Mazu, Empress of Heaven, China (16348XSKE) $3250


H: 31.5”  W: 16..5”  D: 10.5” | FOR SHIPPING INFORMATION CONTACT US AT 213-568-3030

This colorful large image represents Matsu as the Empress of Heaven in elaborate robes covering her front and back with gilt appliqué, raised curvilinear designs, glass and mirror insets  and intense hues of red, blue, green and yellow to allows those at sea in need of her assistance to see her.  A gilt headdress with raised threads and a mirror and topped by a phoenix sits on her intricate hair strands.  Originally on a chair or throne and made to be seen in the round, it now has a wood slat to stabilize it.



Known by many names and titles, Mazu  (Matsu) is the most worshiped female Taoist-deity, a syncretic deity embracing Taoist, Buddhist, Popular Religion and Confucian traditions and beliefs and a tutelary deity as Protectress of the Seas. Irwin defines her as one of the Great Chinese Goddesses who are imperially sanctioned feminine compassionate protectors who grant health, long life and safety to all in regardless of status. There are the two different versions of Mazu: a pious peasant shaman spiritual healer who assists seafarers and an imperially sanctioned elite deity in written traditions who was bestowed the regal title Empress of Heaven bestowed on her during the Qing dynasty. She is recognized by her regal attire and ceremonial Empress hat and often on a decorative chair, now missing. This antique-Chinese-carving portrays the latter, a sanctioned goddess with many honorific titles. She wears a ceremonial Empress headdress with a phoenix, an official’s waist girdle and elaborate robes laced with bright and shinning inset glass jewels which allow her to be seen at sea by sailors needing her assistance. The “jewels” symbolize the rainbow that appeared across the sky when she died, and represent the Five Dyhani-Buddhas, each associated with a different color. Raised curvilinear designs of strands made from incense ash highlight her robe that has two blue beads on the bottom of her sash and five inset mirrors – three across her chest and two inside flowers on her sleeves. A gilt headdress with raised threads inset with a mirror and topped by a phoenix sits on her intricate hair strands. Colors were painted on a white cloth affixed to the wood, part of which is detached from the robe’s rear and the image is otherwise in very good condition from age and  much use. Her face is awash with a newer finish applied over a darker red pigment which may have been reapplied in community temple. Imperial and local Taoist temples dedicated to her appeared in every maritime province throughout southeast China’s coastal regions, Southeast Asian Chinese communities, Vietnam and especially inTaiwan where there are over 3000 temples dedicated to her. In Taiwan she was transformed from a young maiden to a “benevolent maternal figure what watches over the health of all people in Taiwan… and became the local folklore religion of Taiwan and continues to this day.” The large cavity in the back indicates statue was consecrated in an eyeopening ceremony by a Taoist. Los Angeles has an elaborate and welcoming Taoist Thien Hau Matsu Temple filled with carvings of Mazu and other deities that is definitely worth visiting. This is part of the VA  Collection of 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.

Of Taiwan, “Mazu”,


Additional information

Place of Origin



Antique, Qing Dynasty


19-20th Century

Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 31.5” W: 16.25” D: 10.5”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 80.01cm W: 41.27cm D: 26.67cm


Very good, see description

Item Number


Shipping Box Size